In this Open Studio Tour series, we’ll be snooping around artists’ creative spaces, how they set them up, when, why…even how often they clean them! We really want to know all about our artists, and maybe get a bit of inspiration!
Today I’m visiting the Netherlands, where Anna of TheHouseOfMouse creates little felt mice full-time. She made her first mice as Christmas gifts for her family back in 2007, and they went over so well, she decided to open an Etsy shop. The first mouse was listed and sold the same day on March 8th, 2008!
Let’s have a look where the magic happens…
What’s your name and what kind of craft do you do?
My name is Anna and I make little felt mouse ornaments. My mice are inspired by jobs and hobbies, movies, special occasions, famous people, monsters and just about anything that grabs my imagination. Each little mouse has his or her own personality and character.
When did you decide that you needed a studio?
Even as a kid I always had a space in my room for making things. The need for a studio came when I discovered my collection of materials and tools could take up a whole room all by themselves! My crafting studio was previously a painting studio, because before I started TheHouseOfMouse I was a professional oil painter. Anyone who paints with oils will know that it is a smelly process, all that turpentine and spirits does not make for an aromatic experience. My husband quickly designated a room for my painting just so he could close the door and escape the smells coming from it. Once TheHouseOfMouse took over my imagination, I re-organized the painting studio into a crafting room (fewer easels, more tables). Recently, I put up lots of shelves to store my ever-increasing stock of mice and materials for making them.
Did the studio set up impact your crafter budget?
Not really, it is made up of a collection of old bits of furniture and boxes I had lying around. I believe in recycling and reusing whenever possible. I also try to avoid spending money unless I have to. I did splash out on a laptop for my studio last week, but that was from some of my profits over the run up to Christmas. I see it more as a Christmas bonus than a dent in the budget.
How big is your studio?
It is about 4 by 3 meters (13 by 10 feet) with a slanting roof on one side, as it is up in the top of the house. It’s not large, but it’s more than enough space for one person to work.
Which is your favorite tool in your studio?
This is a tricky question, because the tools you need to make a mouse are very simple. I don’t exactly have a favorite needle or pair of scissors! I do have some custom tools I ordered, including a custom seal to use on my certificates of authenticity, I also have a couple of custom stamps from terbearco that I use on my shipping boxes. I love them because they add a little something extra to my product and packaging.
Do you want to share with us one secret of your studio?
While I am sewing a new mouse, it tells me a little story. The story is usually about the things he or she likes to do or see. This only ever happens when I am working alone in my studio — they are shy around other people until they’re finished and they have their whiskers in.
How many hours do you normally spend in your studio?
I work on my business for at least 10 hours a day. It used to be 16 hours a day but I am trying to find some balance between work and home this year, so I am cutting back. Not all of the 10 hours is spent in my studio unfortunately. I need to spend time promoting my store online and off, packing shipping boxes and waiting in line at the post office. I also have to go shopping for supplies (which of course I love). I probably spend between 4 and 8 hours a day in my studio now.
Do you share your studio with someone or would you like to do so?
No thanks! I had to share studio space during my years in University, when I was studying for my Fine Art degree, and I really didn’t enjoy it. Although, of course I had no say in whom I shared with! My studio “buddies” included a tone-deaf guy who liked to whistle to the music on his iPod, and a teenage girl who never stopped talking. Both made it impossible to concentrate, and put me off the idea of sharing a studio unless I had to. I work much better on my own, I can listen to the music I want to and I can be in my own creative bubble. That’s perfect for me.
Is there anything you would add to your working space?
I love to add new bits of art from Etsy to my studio space. I have a beautiful print by yalipaz and a wonderful recycled clock from foundbrooklyn, which I love. I think any additional things for my studio will be aesthetic; I have all the tools I will need for a long time!
If you had to choose one synonym for your studio, which one would you pick: atelier, family room, lair, lodge, nest, playroom, retreat, sanctuary, shelter, darkroom, or showroom and why?
I think “nest” would describe it best. Like a magpie, I collect all kinds of jewels and treasures to put in it. I am creating my little mice, which will one day “fly the nest” to their new owners all over the world.
And last but not least how often do you clean it?
I clean up my desk each night when I am finished for the day, and the whole studio gets vacuumed once a week. If my space is cluttered, my mind is cluttered. Because I am dyslexic, I rely on organization to keep me sane.
Thank you Anna, until next studio snooping, ciao!
If you have an interesting studio or workspace and some tips to share, comment below and you may be next in our Open Studio Tour series!