A Crafty Questionnaire: Sara Stroman



Not every dream job begins with a dream. Sara Stroman's did.

Mid-way through a trip across Europe in 2009, Sara was jolted awake in the middle of the night with an image of a pattern imprinted on her brain. In her dream, she saw herself opening an envelope with a card inside. On her way back home Sara began plotting how to get a stationery company off the ground and thus S2 Stationery and Design was born.

Looking back, the signs were all there. Her trip was part vacation, part tribute to her father who had recently passed away. At the beginning of her trip, Sara ran in the Rome Marathon which had the slogan "Start Your Dreams." During the last leg of her trip in France where her father was born, she grabbed a snack at the train station. It came in a bag that said "Le papier c'est la vie" which translates to "Paper is Life." She says it felt as if her father was showing her the way to her future purpose.

Her mother  knew right away (like all mothers do) that she was on the right path, reminding Sara of how she loved working at a stationery store in high school and had collected wrapping paper to pin on her bedroom wall. Sara's passion for "getting it right" and a constant desire to learn more, do more, has propelled her from making cards for friends to opening an Etsy shop and designing custom cards for wedding, birthday parties, and simply saying hello.

If Sara has an identifiable design ethos, it's to stay out of the way. Her designs are minimal, so that the sender feels like the card is made for him or her, and can be used for different occasions. Sara says that the beauty behind receiving a card in the mail is in reading the words from the other person, and she doesn't want her designs to interfere in that communication. In an ideal world she would be able to teach everyone how to write and communicate how they feel through a social network built the old-fashioned way, around paper and pen and ink. As tangible objects, people take more care with what and how they say in letters. For Sara, a world with a bit more genuine emotional contact is worth dedicating time to.

You'll find S2 Stationery and Design at the Prospect Park Bandshell and Celebrate Brooklyn this summer.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is peace within. I'm a bit of a free spirit and I know that involves having a sense of peace within that allows me to continue to move freely. I love to travel, meet people, tell stories, and learn. The moments when I am unhappy are moments when I feel like I can't do those things. Many times when I feel restricted it is because I can't attain those things. I realize it is a result of mental roadblocks which is when finding that sense of peace can really make the difference and help me move beyond.

What is your greatest fear?
I have two: sounding dumb and getting stabbed.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
None that I know of; I've only ever identified with myself.

Which living person do you most admire?
My 17-year-old brother, Travis. I know that seems odd, but he's got a great head on his shoulders. He has a great sense of humor, is smart and philosophical, kids love him, and considering that he's dealt with a lot more than my other brother and I growing up, he's quite mature for his age. Rather than seeking out trouble he's stayed on course and knows what he wants to do. Not only do I admire him, I'm so proud of him.

Do you have a theme song, and what is it?
Yes, Several! But I'd say it's hands down Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac, although sometimes I think it's also American Girl by Tom Petty.

What is the trait you most like in yourself?
That I am an open person. I'm open to experiences big and small, which in turn leads me to amazing adventures, people and boundless inspiration.

What is the trait you most like in others?
Strong identities. I have a strong identity and so I like people who also have strong identities, who aren't afraid to not conform or not live up to the expectations of others.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Food! I've become an active member in the food movement and so I spend my money on food from Whole Foods and farmers markets. Yes, more expensive, but I value my body, the planet and the work of a farmer that truly cares about his land, animals, and product.

When and where were you happiest?
I'd say the years between 11 and 17 which were spent in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. My family moved there in 1992 from Brooklyn and I loved the time I spent there and the friends I made there. It was a good period in my life.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
That I get emotionally attached to things that I probably shouldn't. I'm a passionate person in general and I never want to lose that passion, but I wouldn't mind stepping away from some of the attachment that I place on things.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Completing my first marathon. I had always hated running and yet there I was in Anchorage, Alaska after months of training, with two sore ankles (they rolled at various points during the race), trying to run/walk 26.2 miles. It was both devastating fulfilling. I didn't run like I wanted to, but I finished the race despite the soreness and disappointment.

If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
A ladybug.

What is your most treasured possession?
A locket of hair from my grandmother. She gave it to me while she was undergoing chemotherapy years ago. I still have it with her note, 19 years after she passed away.

Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
I'd love to have the talent Tabitha had in Bewitched where she'd wrinkle her nose and things would get done. That would solve a lot of my time issues, especially when it comes to making dinner or doing laundry when I have a big stationery order to work on.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My grandparents. My mother's parents because they both came to America from Honduras, worked jobs in factories, never learned English, but bought a house and took care of their children. I don't have a life nearly as hard as theirs and I remember how hard they worked to have what they could and did have.  My father's parents because they were an interracial couple in the 40's and 50's. They met in France while my grandfather, an African American army soldier, was stationed there. They had my dad in 1956 and moved to New York two years later. Racism was more rampant then and my grandmother was a feisty little thing who loved my grandfather and didn't take anything from anyone.

What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
Lying.

What is your motto?
"And if the thing that drives you onward is your heart, you must not let that engine die." I can't take credit for the motto because it comes from song lyrics by Jesse Elliott of the band These United States. But, when I heard the song it comes from, "When You're Traveling at the Speed of Light," I was hooked. I designed/made my first batch of thank you cards (with permission of Jesse) with those on the front and it's been one of my favorite sentences ever since.

Who are your favorite artists?
Any artist who blazes a path and believes in it including the amazing musicians, writers, sculptors, painters, fashion designers out there now. Right now, Jesse Elliott, of These United States, is one of my favorite artists. I am also awed constantly by the works of Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Alexander CalderHenri de Toulouse Lautrec, John Singer Sargent, and Amedeo Modigliani. Those are my absolute favorites. They stop me in my tracks and make me thankful that I can see their talent and beauty. I am also always inspired by indigenous art, including jewelry, architecture and textiles. When I was a child, I was obsessed with the art of Native Americans including tepees and moccasins.

Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?
The scissor. Seriously. I carry at least three pairs on me every day.


What's the first thing you remember making?
The apartment I lived in in Brooklyn had linoleum floors and I would lay stomach down with a box of crayons and white paper and color the patterns of the flooring onto the paper in different colors. I never got tired of doing it, though I try to describe it to people now and they think I'm crazy, but I'm not!



Sue De
etsy.com/shop/persuede
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A Crafty Questionnaire: Stephanie Monroe

Stephanie Monroe is a very happy person. Embracing life to the fullest, she says she feels most complete while creating. And her joy in that process is expressed in a rainbow range of colors. Poppy yellows, sky blues, hippo pinks, earthy greens, big reds, soft browns, are all present in Stephanie's shop of hand-crafted designer toys and accessories, The Honey Pie Tree.

Asked by friends opening an earth-friendly toy business to make a few T-shirts with felt appliques for their store, Stephanie quickly realized she'd found a way to have fun and build a business. The project brought back a lot of happiness, reconnecting her to the sewing she loved to do as a kid. As Stephanie is quick to point out, it's a good feeling knowing someone is walking around with something you've created especially for them. Making little things that are unique and leaving a smile on someone's face makes life worth living.

Right now Stephanie is focused on fabric, working with felt and other natural materials. But her interests are wide and varied, and she could just as easily be designing things for the home, making soap, creating beauty products, sewing a line of clothing or bags, or building 3D sculptures. If it speaks to her creatively, she knows she can make it work. Perhaps one day she'll succeed in creating her dream project -- a global art work that is constantly evolving. People from all over the world would keep adding a bit of their own art to it, making a living piece of art that never stops growing, available for all to experience.



What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To be surrounded by endless art and sewing supplies.

What is your greatest fear?
That I will not have time to create everything I want to share with the world.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Um...I have to get back to you.

Which living person do you most admire?
I most admire my mom. She has a sweet spirit with a creative soul. She is my best friend.

Do you have a theme song, and what is it?
So Fresh and So Clean by Outkast. It just makes me want to strut my stuff like I'm untouchable.




What is the trait you most like in yourself?
A thirst for knowledge. If I don't know how to do something and I want to learn, I study it until I have a thorough knowledge of how it works and then I apply it to my life. I do that with everything I'm interested in. It never gets old, because there's always something new to learn.

What is the trait you most like in others?
An ability to heal and forgive. To forgive someone when they have done you wrong and to be able to move on with your life is a learning process in itself and takes great discipline and a reexamination of oneself.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Well, I'm still working on that one.

When and where were you happiest?
My happiest times were between the years of five and eight. I loved my neighborhood, I loved my family and friends, and anything and everything that had to do with art was the equivalent of a warm burst of sunshine.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Graduating from my dream school, The School of Visual Arts, during the midst of great trials and tribulations.

If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
Probably a chameleon. I have so many different styles. One of my aunts used to jokingly call me a chameleon when I was younger, because she said she never knew what look I was going to come up with next. I tend to adapt easily to my surroundings and draw inspiration from my immediate environment. I also get bored easily and my moods change often, so my artistic expressions tend to reflect whatever mood I am currently in.



What is your most treasured possession?
My dignity and respect for myself. Although it is not tangible, it is something that belongs to only me and can never be taken away.

Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
I wish I was a math genius! I know, it sounds boring, but there's something so amazing about understanding the complexity of numbers and how they relate to the universe. To math geniuses it comes naturally, just like creativity to an artist.

Who are your heroes in real life?
First, my grandmother. Ms. Belle was a very strong women with style, dignity and an angelic spirit. She embodied the term "Super Woman" because she lived life gracefully and to the fullest. She achieved many great things in her lifetime, acquiring respect and true friendship, overcoming boundaries, and always standing up for what she believed in. My grandmother touched lives and changed them for the better. I want people to remember me that way.

Second, believe it or not, is Wesley Autrey, the 50 yr old man who jumped on the tracks of the subway in 2007 to save someone's life. I know it sounds cheesy, but there's something about his character that I admire a great deal, especially in this day and age when everyone has become so self-absorbed. This guy didn't give it a second thought and basically was willing to give his life to save a complete stranger. I mean who makes a decision like that in a split second? And he had his children with him! Such a selfless act with a tremendous impact. That is the epitome of a hero. Plain and simple. No frills, no glitter.



Third is the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who had a dream that we could all live together in peace and be able to respect one another. He is my hero because he was able to look beyond what most of us still cannot see, the fact that we all are people of the same creed. We bleed the same blood, we need the same things to survive. He held onto that vision at a time of great division in this country. He held onto that vision even though he knew he would one day die for believing in it. He had the courage to stand even if no one else would stand with him. And he did it out of love for humankind. That is a hero.



What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
Not being able to creatively think and freely express myself.

What is your motto?
Not to lose my creative voice while still being able to keep current with new designs and trends in the art world!

Who are your favorite artists?
I love Pablo Picasso's creative expression. He dared to be different and he enjoyed every bit of it. He was very much in touch with his creative voice and wasn't afraid to speak out in his art.


Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?
The ice cream maker. Who'd have ever thought you could make something so simple that pleased just about everybody on the planet? I also wish I had thought of the bicycle. Actually the wheel, then the bicycle. No brainer.

What's the first thing you remember making?
A cow out of construction paper. I was in kindergarten and at free time we could choose any activity we wanted: instruments, pretend play in the kitchen, board games. But the only thing that was ever on my mind was the art center.


In addition to Stephanie's Etsy shop, The Honey Pie Tree, you'll also find her work at The (Makers) Market in Park Slope. For more about what inspires Stephanie's designs, visit her website www.thehoneypietree.com.


Sue De
etsy.com/shop/persuede
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A Crafty Questionnaire: Jenny Kim


For a totally uplifting dose of cute, visit Jenny Kim's Etsy shop Overall Baby. Rows of brightly colored overalls on adorable kids is sure to brighten anyone's day, and more than likely, will have you wishing she made overalls in adult sizes too.

A veteran sewer -- her first shop on Etsy is devoted to handmade fabric totes -- Jenny decided to focus on overalls after being laid off from a corporate job in 2008. She likes bringing a new appreciation for such an iconic American item to a modern audience. From the young hip couple looking for something unique and fun for their child, to grandparents who reminisce about the time they wore overalls as children, she designs her garments to appeal across generations.

Jenny's dream setup? After joining the Peace Corps, she would relocate to Costa Rica and volunteer at a surf instruction school while designing a line using the resources available at Aid to Artisans, a program that connects factories overseas in poor nations with designers in the U.S.

For more adorable babies in adorable overalls, visit Jenny's website at www.overallbaby.com where you'll find a link to her Etsy shop and a list of retail shops. Jenny also sells at local fairs in the NY area, especially in Brooklyn. Look for Overall Baby at the {NewNew} Handmade Calvacade, the Renegade Craft Market in Williamsburg, and the 5th Avenue Fair in Park Slope.



What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To sit quietly in a room, while meditating, and not let my thoughts get the best of me. Perfect happiness happens when my mind is still.

What is your greatest fear?
I think fear is created by attachment to things, which is something I try not to do so much of. Fear of losing loved ones, fear of not attaining goals, etc. Attachments and expectations are great but I rather roll with the punches.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I can't really think of anyone. It's hard to identify with one particular person since we live such different lives.

Which living person do you most admire?
Right now I'm a bit fascinated by Melinda Gates.

Do you have a theme song, and what is it?
Something jazzy and upbeat!

What is the trait you most like in yourself?
Honesty.

What is the trait you most like in others?
Honesty.

What is your greatest extravagance?
This is a tough one. I'm a pretty simple girl who hates shopping. I bothers me when things I've bought pile up unused. I usually have a rule about owning only one of everything.

When and where were you happiest?
Whenever I'm on vacation. It's been awhile. I could use one now.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I could be more firm with my decisions. I can be a bit of a pushover.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Starting my own business. It’s the most challenging thing I've ever done! Also the thing I’m most proud of.

If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
A dolphin. They seem like the freest animals in the world.


What is your most treasured possession?
People I love.

Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
I wish I could draw. Like really draw. Like a super talented artist. It’s the one thing I think you can't learn. Either you're born with it or not.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My mom. She's the kindest and most giving person I know. Also, the most resilient person I know. If I can grow up to be as half as kind as she is, then I know I've done something right.

What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
Snow in New York.

What is your motto?
Shit happens.

Who are your favorite artists?
My favorite all time band is the Beatles. I LOVE the Beatles. If I were a young girl during the 60's, I would totally be one of those crazy girls in the stands of their concerts screaming and having complete meltdowns!


Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?
Etsy! Actually, I thought of a similar concept about 8 years ago. I got the idea one day strolling through a street fair. I thought, wouldn't it be awesome if there was a website where people could easily set up shop and sell their wares? Everyone thought I was nuts.

What's the first thing you remember making?
In the 4th grade, I picked up a book on origami and was soon making flapping cranes and other cool things. My classmates thought they were pretty cool too and would offer all sorts of goodies in exchange.



Sue De
etsy.com/shop/persuede
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A Crafty Questionnaire: Irina Adam

Irina with Phoenix, her adopted cockatiel and shop mascot. He's genetically bald from the chest up.

Irina Adam, of Phoenix Botanicals, lived the first 12 years of her life in Bucharest, Romania. She spent her summers and a few winters in the mountains at Tusnad, roaming the woods and meadows, getting lost at dusk among the pine trees, scaring herself with the shadows, and eventually finding her way back home.

Her childhood wilderness adventures created a lifelong bond with the natural world. It is a bond that sustained her through the transition to Bloomington, Indiana as a teenager seeking solace in the forest near her new home, as a college student obsessed with art and botany, and as a crafter of small batch earth-friendly natural care products.

As an environmental and animal activist, Irina practices what she preaches. She consciously and sustainably harvests the plants from wild locations in the northeast. Mentored by herbalist Robin Rose Bennett, with whom she apprenticed over 3 years in New York, Irina uses local plants as the base of her herbal products and she loves taking the time to let people know about the abundance of local wild, therapeutic plants -- sometimes also called weeds -- just outside our doors if you know what to look for.

Enthusiastic and always willing to be inspired, Irina believes deeply in the infinite ways to see the world offers us through plants, animals, weather, and all of nature. All one has to do is listen, watch, and pay attention.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Making a batch of Wild Rose Balm, with Phoenix the cockatiel on my shoulder! Then, swimming in the ocean with wild dolphins, eating organic chocolate and...

What is your greatest fear?
Fear! For real.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
The female figurines often decorated with spirals, found all over the world. Her-story!

Which living person do you most admire?
Amma is quite amazing.

Do you have a theme song, and what is it?
Africa by John Coltrane.



What is the trait you most like in yourself?
Easy laughing - I think other parts of me like too, as it makes me/them feel good.

What is the trait you most like in others?
I like it when people empower others by what they do, say or make.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Macchiatos.

When and where were you happiest?
When and wherever I'm with someone interesting, sweet and attractive, in a beautiful landscape. All these times make together a high plateau of happiness.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Id start with a cute haircut. Nah, I'd be a billionaire and still be myself. That would take care of the haircut too.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The times I inspired someone, even a little. To see something new, to make something, to laugh, to value an animal more, to recycle, to appreciate something in nature. Last summer I led some herb walks in Montauk. A little boy came who loved eating clover flowers. Every time I saw him after, he was identifying plants to his family and showing off his collections of rose hips.

If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
A sea wind, a bird, a flying elf, an old Sonic Youth t-shirt?

What is your most treasured possession?
A picture of the Sea Goddess, Yemaya.


Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
Today, writing very good, and fast. And preferably, without desiring snacks every 10 minutes.

Who are your heroes in real life?
As a true-blue Pisces I had to Google 'real life'. Did you know, some people call it 'meatspace,' as opposed to cyberspace? In New York I've had great teachers - herbalists Robin Rose Bennett, Lata Kennedy, mycologist Gary Lincoff, Qigong instructor Masahiro Ouchi, break-dancer Tiny, animal activist Karen Davis, to name a few. So many awesome people. And of course my mom and Phoenix.

What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
That empty look.

What is your motto?
Live and let die. That's it lately.

Who are your favorite artists?
Lots! In the past week the music of Amanda Palmer, the paintings of Barnett Newman and Rothko at MOMA inspired me. My friends at Poykpac make great funny videos.

Mark Rothko painting

Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?
Plastic. I would then destroy the evidence and hope no one will invent it again. Can hardly eat a piece of candy without having to throw away plastic these days! On the other hand I am glad that the info is finally out about how plastic ends up in sea animals' bellies, in the water in our water bottles, in our blood. I am excited about the new lip balm paper tubes I've been using and aim to reduce all plastic in my packaging.

What's the first thing you remember making?
A mess. But I thought it made itself.

In addition to her Etsy shop, Phoenix Botanicals can also be found at a number of local stores in New York. Check out her website, phoenixbotanicals.com, or her facebook page, for information about current classes and events.




Sue De
persuede.etsy.com
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A Crafty Questionnaire: Christina Li



Christina Li is a woman of impulse, at least when it comes to her drawing. An idea will randomly pop into her head, inspired by something she had seen or read or experienced, and then she filters it through her love of anime and manga. She is, in her own words, an avid fan of the style which allows her to step back into the sneakers of being a kid.

Christina began drawing to pass the time while waiting to be picked up from school. One day, during a particularly long wait in first grade, she spent the entire afternoon drawing a horse. Suddenly it occurred to her that she had created something with her own hands and that was of great value. Christina never stopped sketching, and her interests since then have grown to include painting, stamping, and knitting.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Traveling with my friends and family with a drawing pad in hand.

What is your greatest fear?
Insects and spiders (Though butterflies and ladybugs are tolerated)

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
This is a tough one... a friend did compare me to Napoleon because I was short.

Which living person do you most admire?
Too many to name... I admire Hayao Miyazaki a manga artist who also directs and produces wonderful animations such as "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Howl's Moving Castle." He's doing what he loves, every one of his works is so magical, and his eye for detail is incredible.




Do you have a theme song, and what is it?
No theme song, though if I were to have one, it would have to be dramatic. I'm told I tend to be "over dramatic" sometimes.

What is the trait you most like in yourself?
My creativity.

What is the trait you most like in others?
Confidence. That is one thing that's very hard to maintain and exude without seeming cocky.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Investing in a high quality printer and computer solely dedicated to my art.

When and where were you happiest?
Sitting on the kitchen table as a child, drawing on yellow drawing paper while my grandma knitted on the sofa during a late afternoons.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Definitely stop being so paranoid and worried over every little thing!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Opening my Etsy store. I'm generally so wary and self conscious about my own work, the idea of selling my art was just a dream until Etsy gave me the perfect environment to go at my own pace.

If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
A neurotic cat... or a cabbage, but not sure why.



What is your most treasured possession?
The protection necklace my grandma gave me.

Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
Able to do math properly.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My mom is the hero in my life. She endured a lot in her life from immigrating to an entirely different country, raising two kids as a single mother, and never faltering when faced with many obstacles. She is the most forgiving and kindest person in my life.

What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
When people are disrespectful. Doesn't matter if you're earning minimum wage or are a millionaire, we're all people and should be treated as such.

What is your motto?
Always keep smiling.

Who are your favorite artists?
Tomie dePaola is my favorite children's book illustrator because his drawings are so playful and immerse me into the stories. Leonardo da Vinci because not only was he an artist, he excelled in so many fields it gave me the belief that I could pursue my love of science while making my art.

Artist at work, by Tomie dePaola. All rights reserved.


Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?

Just recently I brought clear scotch tape and it's so useful especially when shipping prints and posting up inspirational pictures and posters on my wall. I wish I'd thought of it.

What's the first thing you remember making?
That drawing of a horse in first grade.


You'll find Christina this winter at the Brooklyn Flea at One Hanson Plaza. Check out her website to catch up with her Flea schedule, and to learn more about the person behind the quirky cute designs of LiPeony.




Sue De
persuede.etsy.com
made for you


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A Crafty Questionnaire: Leslie Astor



Leslie Astor of AstorKnot has been crafting and making for as long as she can remember. A ceramist and graphic designer by training, she strives to look at the everyday in fresh and new ways. "I was terrible at [graphic design] but studied it thinking it was a practical skill to acquire," Leslie confesses. "And I don’t regret having done it because I do think it informs a lot of the work I do now in terms of creating compositions with text and image." She goes on to quote Emerson: “If the stars should appear one night every thousand years, how man would marvel and stare.” In that vein, she looks at something ordinary we see everyday, like a bunch of carrots, and strives to illustrate them as if they are something rare and beautiful.

A full-time mom, Leslie loves crafting with her children. Together they've made everything from Christmas ornaments to glittery decoupaged Easter eggs. Recently, she taught her seven-year-old son how to embroider. Next, Leslie hopes to tackle printmaking as a family project, and recommends Amanda Blake Soule’s book “The Creative Family” as full of great ideas for spending creative time with kids.

For all of the time spent crafting with her family, Leslie also appreciates that running a craft-based business, and pursuing the different outlets it gives her imagination, provides her with space to develop and grow creatively. You can see the results in her Etsy shop, or in person at Urban Alchemist in Park Slope, which carries the AstorKnot line of bags.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Around the dinner table with my husband and my three children, eating a healthy meal I have lovingly prepared, where no one is standing, shouting, throwing food or making potty jokes. This actually does happen once in a blue moon.

What is your greatest fear?
Losing my family.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Eva Hesse, who struggled to come to terms with and integrate her various identities as a woman, wife and artist.
Eva Hesse circa 1959 [Stephen Korbet]


Which living person do you most admire?

Nelson Mandela.

Do you have a theme song, and what is it?
I don’t, but back in high school it was the ZZ Top song “Legs” which was the nickname the captain of my soccer team gave me. It stuck, though no one has called me that in quite a long time!




What is the trait you most like in yourself?

Being able to show up for my family and friends when they need me.

What is the trait you most like in others?
Empathy, and an excellent sense of humor. I know, that’s two.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Expensive jeans.

When and where were you happiest?
Most recently in Northampton, Massachusetts sledding down a hill with Henry, Jake, Charlie, and Michael.



If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Someday, when I get around to it, I’m going to stop procrastinating.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being able to juggle, albeit very imperfectly, a creative business and raising children.

If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
I hope I get to keep coming around as an artist in one form or another.

What is your most treasured possession?
A hand stitched quilt that my great grandmother made.

Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
A beautiful singing voice.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My mother, who raised five children on her own, and every other single mother out there.

What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
Fear-based intolerance.

What is your motto?
You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

Who are your favorite artists?
A few, in no particular order are: Liza Lou, Tom Friedman, Cecily Brown, Pierre Bonnard, Joan Mitchell, Diane Arbus, Eva Hesse, Marina Abromovic, Chuck Close, Cy Twombly, Sol LeWitt, Lee Bontecou. I could go on and on…

Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?
Silly Bandz.

What's the first thing you remember making?
I clearly remember my first day of kindergarten: walking into the room, straight up to the easel, and painting.

In addition to AstorKnot, Leslie maintains a dedicated Facebook page, called Astor Knot Design, where subscribers can get updates and info.




Sue De
persuede.etsy.com
made for you


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A Crafty Questionnaire: Kim Piotrowski



Looking for affordable, original art to spice up your space? Make sure to check our Kim Piotrowski's Etsy shop kipi. A Brooklyn-based artist with a background in biology and fractal geometry and an obsession for taking photographs, Kim translates her scientific interest into works of art. She's had several exhibitions of her large-scale paintings, viewable online at www.kipiski.com, but her Etsy store is devoted to her smaller paintings presented on old book pages as upcycled, artistic color studies.

Though she's been painting since she was 5, Kim never thought she'd have a career as an artist until a pivotal trip in her second year of college to see an exhibition by Terry Winters at the Whitney Museum. It was everything she was studying as a pre-med biology major, except it wasn't clinical. She was struck that the artwork on view was scientific, yet simultaneously creative and free. Winters' work was saying everything Kim wanted, reflecting the perfect blend of her two interests: art and biology. She changed her major to art immediately following that trip.

Given unlimited time and resources, Kim would love to continue to push her creative boundaries by making enormous paintings, experimenting with color and form, and just making a big mess with the paint. It would be, she says, "wild and free." In the meantime, you may see her art in Barney's midtown department store in NYC, as well as at Hayden-Harnett in Brooklyn.

Barney's display, featuring original Kim Piotrowski art work


What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A real art studio, a weekend place in the woods, a dog for a companion, plenty of time to read and blog more, and a walk-in closet.

What is your greatest fear?
Losing everything.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Probably Andy Warhol. We come from similar backgrounds, and I was in love with Interview Magazine as a teenager. He’s the reason I came to New York, although the “art scene” is entirely different now.

Which living person do you most admire?
Entrepreneurs

What is the trait you most like in yourself?
That I have a lot of interests, and generally pursue them.

What is the trait you most like in others?
Acceptance.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Clothes shopping.

When and where were you happiest?
I’m happiest when I’m traveling and taking photographs.

A market in Berlin, near Humboldt University. Photo by Kim Piotrowski

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be more patient.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Finishing college, getting two masters degrees, and supporting myself.

If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
I don’t believe in reincarnation. But if I weren't painting, I would probably be working with animals in some way. I’ve always thought the canine assistance programs were a really wonderful concept. Someday, I hope to have a dog or two in my life, it’s just difficult in the city.

What is your most treasured possession?
Family photographs.

Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
The ability to sew like my mom. After several attempts, I just don’t have the patience for it. I’d like to learn how to knit someday though. It seems to be quite popular, and would just be an extension of being creative.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents.

What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
Having too much to do and being stressed about time and money.

What is your motto?
No schlepping into Manhattan on weekends – the trains are horrible!

Who are your favorite artists?
Judy Pfaff, Willem de Kooning, Keith Haring, and Basquiat.

Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?
The Harry Potter Series.



What's the first thing you remember making?
I made holiday decorations for the front door out of construction paper, markers, pipe cleaners, glitter, and glue. I felt a rivalry with the ones my mom bought at the local five and dime for any given occasion -- Halloween, Christmas, you name it!







Sue De
persuede.etsy.com
made for you


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A Crafty Questionnaire: Giving Thanks

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Typically, the Crafty Questionnaire devotes a post to just one {NewNew}er at a time. But 'tis the season of generosity and giving, so in that spirit I asked some of the artisans participating in the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade to share a column and tell us what they're giving thanks for this year.


Kelly Titus: Aperture Agog

I am so thankful to have a job with health insurance. In tough times like these, it's feels like a luxury to be able to see a doctor when I need to.










Leslie F: Elle F. Bijoux

I am thankful for a year full of new endeavors, creative freedom, my hubbie, my family, and rhinestones!











Lauren Falkowski: Lola Falk

This year, I am thankful for all of the outrageously awesome ways that my life has changed in 2010: moving to NYC, ending a relationship that wasn't working, and best of all? Making the career change to work full-time on my handbag business. Life is soooo good...



Louise Lasson: Lu Crafts

I am thankful this year to have fulfilled a 20 year dream to go on a safari in Africa. It was truly amazing. The animals were wonderful, but I knew they would be. The landscapes, especially, were a revelation: Baobab trees; all the different kinds of Acacia trees; the Serengeti that goes on forever.









Luis Fernando: Luis Fernando

I am thankful for all the wonderful new bike lanes that are popping up on major streets in the City. I've lived in New York City for over 30 years and have wrestled with traffic while riding for most of those years. It's nice now to be able to have a virtually car-free and care-free ride from my neighborhood into Manhattan.





Michelle Cavigliano: My Zoetrope

I'm thankful for kitty cuddles and happy/healthy friends and family. Also, pumpkin pie!






Ruby Nachom: Nemesis Jewelry

This year I am thankful for a bunch of things: having a job when so many are unemployed, even though it barely pays my bills. I am thankful for the free time to really transform my jewelry making into a business. I am super thankful for all of the positive feedback I have gotten this past year, especially from my Dad whose opinion I really value. I am thankful to the {NewNew} for the friends that I have made and sharing their resources because I don't know how to do this on my own. Most of all I am thankful for a husband who not only tolerates this craziness but encourages it. He's my biggest cheerleader. Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!


Andria Alefhi: New York Clocks

This year I am thankful for continued creativity!






Jenny Kim: Overall Baby

This year I’m thankful for street fairs! Not only have I been able to meet so many wonderful people, but I’ve had the opportunity to stuff my face with so many tasty foods and treats: Papusas at the Flea in Fort Greene, fresh succulent lobster rolls at the Seventh Avenue Fair in Park Slope, beer galore at the Atlantic Avenue Market, and so many other wonderfully tasty treats. In LA you have to pay to get into many of the street fairs, so I’m just so glad to have this free outlet in NY where you can walk around on sunny days and shop and eat and enjoy.


Elizabeth Hiney: Rose McKay Designs

I am thankful for these awesome blue chalcedony beads that make me so very happy!!!






Rosalie Zingales: Rosi Rouge

I am thankful, that in these trying times, I have garnered the strength to keep going against all odds, knowing so many others have it much worse than I. Especially thankful to find the {NewNew} Etsy team!












Sue De
persuede.etsy.com
made for you


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A Crafty Questionnaire: Andria Alefhi


One day Andria Alefhi looked at a PopTart box and thought "that would make a cool clock." And it did. Nowadays Andria makes clocks from postcards, book covers, coasters, and photos, as well as from the occasional canned meat container. But more on that later. She sells her everyday-object-into-functional-art clocks from the Etsy shop NewYorkClocks.


What interests Andria about clocks is not so much the mechanics, but the possibilities. Ordinary objects are transformed into something not only essential and functional, but pleasing. There's a resonance that happens from both the function of her clocks -- to mark time, to keep track of how a day passes -- and in the objects themselves and the memories they evoke through pop-culture references and familiarity.

Which makes sense, given that Andria was originally inspired by a clock that belonged to her mother and has become a treasured keepsake. It too marks time and memory in one object, an interest that is reflected in other aspects of her creative life. Andria writes at the blog Donuts at Home and produces a nonfiction and poetry zine We'll Never Have Paris, also available on Etsy.

You'll find Andria and her ordinary-yet-extraodinary clocks at The Holiday Handmade Cavalcade on Sunday, December 5 in New York City.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Its my birthday everyday and friends come with gifts and karaoke songs.

What is your greatest fear?
Getting old.

Do you have a theme song, and what is it?
I Dream of Jeannie.



What is the trait you most like in yourself?
Spontaniety.

What is the trait you most like in others?
Easy going.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Facial lotions.

When and where were you happiest?
I try for everyday. That being said, I just came back from a vacation, so I am in a pretty good mood right now.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Less emotional.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I still have a boyfriend. Ha!


If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
I would love to come back as a flapper from the 1920s.



What is your most treasured possession?
My apartment keys. I'm happy every time I need them to get inside and I haven’t lost them yet.


Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
Dance.


What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
Disloyalty.

What is your motto?
It’s a free country.

Who are your favorite artists?
Ah, so many! I don’t know!
 Okay, I can say David Sedaris. He branded a new kind of writing that paved the way for a lot of people, including me. As for peers, my friend Lou Lasson is constantly improving her craft and designing new items. She puts me to shame.

Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?
Suitcase on wheels.

What's the oddest thing you've ever made into a clock?
A halal spam container. Instead of saying spam, it had Arabic writing and a drawing of a black cow.

What's the first thing you remember making?
Figurines from plasticine clay.

Why clocks?
I like that I can eyeball a tea tin, or a cigar box, or a soap box, and know it will make a good clock. It kind of just happened, and now I am the clock lady. There aren't many of us.






SueDe
persuede.etsy.com
made for you


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A Crafty Questionnaire: Veena Burry


Veena Burry has been knitting and crocheting since the age of four, when her mother taught her how to make magic from two sticks and some yarn. Since she couldn't yet read, she made up all of her own designs. Not content to stop there, Veena went on to learn how to weave, embroider, quilt, sew, braid, and bead. A virtual craft whirlwind, Venna is constantly working on all kinds of projects to tickle her creative fancy. Not a day goes by where she isn't knitting or crocheting at least one project, if not more.

But where does she find the time? When asked, Venna laughs and says "Time? Who has time? There's never enough! However, it's important to make time for what matters to you. I'd much rather knit than vacuum!" Her trade secret? Doubling up on activities, like knitting and crochet while watching movies, or riding in cars or trains.

One of Veena's passions is using natural fibers. Not only because they feel and look good, but they are earth friendly. She takes seriously educating her peers and customers alike about the dangers of using acrylics and other synthetics that are petroleum based and not biodegradable. From her point of view, with so many wonderful natural fibers, why use yarns that harm the planet?

It all fits with her philosophy of creating beautiful and flattering garments in wonderful, rich colors. Her greatest pleasure is knowing people wear and use her knitwear with enjoyment. Every design is one of a kind -- she rarely ever repeats a project -- which means the buyer has the only one. To Veena, it's akin to the difference between buying a print copy of a painting, and buying the original. Why not get the real thing?

Veena sells her original designs exclusively online at her shop, KnittingGuru.etsy.com, but you can find more about her designs and inspirations on her websites, KnittingGuru.com and BurryBabies.com.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My idea of perfect happiness is having a loving family and doing the work I love, so my perfect happiness is right now.

What is your greatest fear?
I've had a lot of physical therapy on my hands over the years. I've had to go for long stretches without knitting, crochet or even writing. I worry about that happening again since I use my hands repetitively every day. However, I do know what exercises and stretches to do when I have any pain and I work ergonomically too. The articles on my KnittingGuru website on exercises and ergonomics for knitters have been popular pages for years so this seems to be a common fear among fiber artists.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I've always identified with Odysseus' wife, Penelope. While he was on his 20-year-long odyssey she was harassed by suitors. She promised to marry when the tapestry she was making was finished. Every day she wove and every night she unwove to put them off until her true love returned. And they say he was wily!

Which living person do you most admire?
It's just impossible for me to single out one person, but I will say that I admire the musicians of the New York Philharmonic for their talent, hard work, and for keeping Classical music alive and well in NYC. They're the greatest.

Do you have a theme song, and what is it?
I don't have a theme song, but I do love vocal music. My favorites include: Puccini's La Boheme, Wagner's Ring Cycle, Schumann and Schubert lieder, Bach's B Minor Mass and Mozart's Requiem. There is a sadness in each of these works, but they are also uplifting, inspiring and incredibly beautiful music.



What is the trait you most like in yourself?
I like that I'm creative, intelligent and empathetic.

What is the trait you most like in others?
People who are creative, intelligent and empathetic.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Endless yarn purchases! I have enough yarn for three lifetimes, but I always find reasons to buy more.

When and where were you happiest?
I'm a generally happy person so it's hard to pick just one time and place. I was extremely happy when each of my three children were born. I'm supremely happy now working from my studio in New York City -- my hometown and a place I've always dearly loved. I'm also always deeply happy when I'm in Paris -- the most beautiful city of all.



If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I had left the NYC Board of Education much sooner to do the work I truly love full time.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Only one thing again? I'm proud of having my own business where my work is my pleasure, of having raised three wonderful children and of having some of my work published.

If you were to be reincarnated as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think you would be?
A fiber artist! I'm at Nirvana right now!

What is your most treasured possession?
I think we all need to treasure our health. Without that all possibilities are diminished. I also really treasure my large personal library and my enormous yarn collection.

Which talent or skill would you most like to have?
I'd love to be able to tap dance like Fred Astaire!



Who are your heroes in real life?
I admire people who have broken ethnic, gender, religious and racial barriers to become successful. I'm excited that Elena Kagan, who graduated from my alma mater Hunter College High School, is now a Supreme Court Justice. In fact, I'm thrilled that there are three New York women on the Supreme Court now!

What is it the one thing you dislike the most?
People who are biased, hate-filled and narrow-minded. I'm not too fond of philistines either.

What is your motto?
Good knitters are good rippers! Also, a mistake is an opportunity to learn and design something new.

Who are your favorite artists?
It's hard to narrow down to a manageable list, but I adore Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Picasso, Rembrandt, El Greco, Klimt, Mary Cassatt, Vermeer, Gaudi, Munch, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, Ancient Greek art, and pre-historic art (in no particular order).

Is there any invention you wish you had thought of?
It would have been great to have been the first person to take two sticks and some fiber and knit something.

What's the first thing you remember making?
A Little Bo Peep costume for a small doll that I designed and crocheted with fine cotton thread -- including lacy pantaloons. At around the same time I used one of those potholder looms to weave so many potholders that everyone who knew me started to get a glazed look when they saw me coming.






Susan
persuede.etsy.com
jewelry made for you


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