Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Brooke Medlin. I live in Dayton, Ohio, a city with a great arts community. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different art forms, and have been known to say that someday I’ll ‘learn to do everything!’ but have found that metalworking and jewelry design are the things that call to me the most. I wear little jewelry myself, usually just rings, but find that when I slip them on, I feel more myself. I love this feeling. I’ve been lucky to have awesome instructors that encourage my occasionally strange ideas and are able to deal with my ‘I want to figure it out myself!’ mindset, and parents who have always believed in my abilities (thanks, mom, for wearing every form of ugly pasta necklace I’ve ever made – and in public, even!). I also teach a jewelry class for kids at the Rosewood Arts Centre (where I spent many an evening taking classes as a kidlet) , and have taught at the K-12 Gallery for Young People. Kids create the most inspired things, and it’s sort of indescribably cool to be a part of that process.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
Let’s see. Stews from grass and lemon balm, concocted in trash can lids. Notebooks full of puzzles and drawings and math problems that I would hide for myself to find and complete later. Audio tapes in which I played games with imaginary friends (“Can you guess the sound?”). Paper beads made from magazines, rolled up, glued, and made into necklaces as gifts for my teachers. The first things I remember making and selling were these little plastic baskets found in our bathroom closet in which I would arrange pine needles and pebbles and pinecones and feathers, magical things found at my grandma’s house. Two dollars apiece, bought by friends of my parents, displayed on piano tops and the backs of toilets.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
I’m inspired by……everything! The color and form found in nature never lose their newness for me. Deep, tree-bark browns against the freshest of greens. The bluest sky you’ve ever seen meeting the deep green of summer grass. I dream of seashells nearly every night, and the ocean – whether in color or material or shape – seems to find it’s way into my work often. Nothing is off limits. Antlers! Birds! Microbes! Fruit! The simple, soothing grace of circles. I love all of these things. Inspiration is so unexplainable – it’s just there. It’s a way of looking at the world that I’m so grateful I possess. I worried when I began creating things that I would run out of ideas, but I shouldn’t have. There’s always something new to see, or a new way to see something familiar.
What are your favorite materials?
Metal. And stone. And vintage glass in the brightest of colors. I love the rawness of hammered metal paired with the glossiness of a perfectly round, brightly colored stone. I love the weight of metal against skin, and the weightlessness of wood as it brushes against the neck. I love how, just by hammering, you can shape, harden and polish metal into something beautiful.
I’ve also recently become the proud parent of a button-making machine, and have so far filled half a moleskine and entire car rides with my boyfriend with ideas for buttons.
What is your favorite color?
Colors! Not color. I like contrasting colors, like bright red and mustard yellow, or sea blue and lemon. Shiny black sterling with it’s non-oxidized counterpart.
Any tips for selling handmade stuff?
Love what you make! Don’t make it just to sell! If you love what you make, it’s much easier to tell the person who complimented you on your earrings just how you made them, or why. Also easier, then, is handing them one of the business cards you always keep on you (you do keep them on you, right?).
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I read, and read, and read some more. I do crosswords to slow my brain down and distract it from the flow of ideas and ‘I should make that!’s that have set up camp there. I love to ride my bike, and spend lots of time imagining that I live by the sea and only need the bike to get around, no car. I also write one-word books and ridiculous haiku about Japanese pastry (hey, you asked!).
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
I like the idea of subcategories or compartments within our shops. A little birdy told me this was in the works. I would also like a ‘shopping cart’ within our stores – not the whole site, as that would be very hard to do, with each seller’s different shipping rates – that way, it’d be much easier to combine shipping costs without having to create a separate invoice.