Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Maya and I live in the Fingerlakes region of New York. My husband and I both had urban childhoods and wanted to escape to greener pastures when we started raising our family. We found our dream space in an old 1850’s farmhouse surrounded by woods, meadows, and farmland. Discovering the natural world along side my children (11, 4 and 1/2) has opened my eyes immensely. I’ve always considered myself eco-conscious (sewed my wedding dress out of hemp back in ’96), but definitely feel more connected to the earth out here in the countryside. My blog, maya*made, chronicles this rural life and all of my inspirations… including the renovation of my mother’s 1880s barn into a home/studio.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Being with my family comes before anything else. Living where there are four distinct seasons definitely shapes the other parts of my life. Cooking and baking are high up on my list of great pleasures… especially when a good blanket of snow is on the ground and a fire is roaring in the woodstove. I was a baker all through college and was a manager/cook for a vegan restaurant when I met my husband (17 years ago). In the warmer months I try to get to my garden as much as possible. We raise most of our summer vegetables and I’m crazy about fresh-cut flowers! I can’t forget garage sales and flea markets! Nothing like a Saturday morning with a few promising sales to look forward to and strong cup of coffee in your hand! The hunt is the best part.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I grew up living a handmade life. My mother and biological father are both gifted artists… so is my grandfather. In fact my grandparents built their home (the first solar heated home on Long Island) all by themselves in 1947. I was born in that house. The combination of creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness were woven into every facet of my childhood. I didn’t know there were other ways to live until I went out into the world.. I’ve always thought of myself as artistic, but only whispered the title “artist” quietly to myself. The last few years have brought a new confidence… I now say it out loud.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
I do a lot of my work late at night. Luckily, I don’t need much sleep. Most of my designs involve materials with a history… figuring out how to reinvent them is the thrilling part for me. I’ve always been an idea person… with notebooks scattered throughout my home filled with inspirations I have at odd moments. My best ideas used to happen when I nursed my children. My husband’s ongoing joke right after I put my daughter to sleep used to be, “What did you invent now?” Since that chapter is over, I find the moments before I close my eyes to be the most fruitful. My studio is located where we used to have a guest room. There has been a direct correlation between when I claimed this space for myself, and when I started transforming all of my ideas into reality.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I cherish my collection of family prints: my mother’s silk screened psychedelic bird from the 70s, my father’s silkscreen for the art gallery of the University of Puerto Rico in 1967, and my grandfather’s block prints from the 50s and 60s. These, with many of my children’s work, are all framed on my walls.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
everything by Barbara Kingsolver
The complete Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel
The Forgotten Crafts by John Seymour
The Duhks, Jonatha Brooke, Patty Griffin, Solas
Chariots of Fire
Run Lola Run
One Pretty Thing
Sew, Mama, Sew
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
-There are so many amazing Etsians, the way to stand out and be unique is to be YOU. Although it’s easy to get caught up in design trends, listening to your own voice and style will make you stand out.
-Love your customers. They will feel your appreciation in personal notes and thoughtful packaging.
– Don’t underestimate the power of good photography!
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love, love, love all aspects of The Storque! I also enjoy all of the gift guides and treasuries. I marvel at how beautifully they are all curated. I know I’m not the first to say this, but I’d love to be able to identify that a customer is returning… and what they had previously purchased. I slip personal notes in with each shipment, and it would be wonderful to have that info at my fingertips.
How do you promote your work?
I spend a great deal of energy and thought crafting a blog that will hopefully inspire others to lead a simpler and more handmade life. Whenever I’m trying something new for my shop, I check it out with my readers first. I love them!
In ten years I’d like to be…
doing what I love with the people I love close by. More of the same, but with a little additional time each day. I’m also looking forward to being a published author… some day I hope! Oohhh… I said it out loud. Now that I’ve conquered my timidity about claiming the title artist/designer, I’m on to, “author.”