Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello!! My name is Shannon Duffy I’m the artist behind Helicopter Studios. I recently have been transplanted to the woods of Kentucky where I live with my husband, two sweet ones, three dogs and Cinnamon Bun Bun. My husband works for a Kentucky State Park and we actually get to live in the park – pretty cool, huh? Prior to KY I lived in NC for a few years and AZ where I received my MFA in metals/jewelry. Until a couple of years ago I had been working strictly in metals… then one day I started making clothes for my daughter. I fell in love with sewing… I could sew around my children, take it with me on the go, there were no chemicals or loud sounds (at least after I upgraded to a better machine). During this time I was homeschooling my children so it allowed me to weave my work into my daily life. Now I split my studio between metals and fibers so I can bounce back and forth. I also have an Etsy shop under the name Heilo Studios where I sell my metalwork.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I spend my days daydreaming with my children… we live a pretty creative life. Of course, we do all the usual stuff… baking, singing, dancing, hiking, gardening, thrifting, listening to music… But, if you were to ask my husband, he would say, “If she is not making art… then she is thinking about making art.” So there you go.
What first made you want to become an artist?
Hmm… I guess I’m one of those people who can’t remember not being an artist. Honestly, I have to make art… it’s not a choice; it is a part of me. I see it happening to my four-year-old daughter, she amazes and inspires me.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Most of my days are filled being a mom… but when my husband comes home from work, I’m out in my studio until dinner. Most of my work is done at night when everyone is sleeping. I’m not one to do a bunch of sketches before I make things. I usually have the idea in my mind for several days… then I put that idea on paper. Next would be making the prototype, this will take anywhere from 3-6 hours. When I’m making the prototype I usually cut all my patterns at the same time. Before going to grad school I worked at an architecture firm where I built scale models. This experience shows up in my Discovery Totes often. I really love Montessori and Waldorf concepts… which has been a big influence on not just my work but my parenting practice too. I am influenced by the natural world, I love being outside and looking at the details in nature. My work is meant to allow a child to discover and imagine in a simple quiet way.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I buy handmade whenever I can. When I can’t buy it… then I try to trade for it. With that being said… I have a large art collection from undergrad and grad school. I enjoy living with stuff that has meaning, and I feel it is important to pass that on to my children. If I have to choose… my favorite would be the cast and forged wedding bands I made for me and my sweetie.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Closer, The Sound of Music, Moulin Rouge, Any musical…. I’m loving Glee (TV)
This one is very difficult for me…
Joanna Newsome, Cat Power, Bright Eyes, Calexico, Ida
I love searching flickr and reading sewliberated and storkbitesman… design blogs would be thestylefiles and designsponge.
I love to teach myself new thing and most of my reading revolves around learning…
Lost Crafts by Una McGovern
Learning All The Time by John Holt
Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol
I do listen to podcast while I’m working, some faves are… Craft Sanity, This American Life, Oprah’s New Earth Series and The Splendid Table.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Before I decided to become an Etsy seller I spent some time researching the site. I really wanted to “invent” a product that was new and different… I think that was important for me personally. Also, enjoy what you are making… this is number one for me!! Then of course there are the photos… make them clean and clear because they are the reason someone decides to make a purchase.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
My favorite things happening on Etsy right now are the gift guides. I would love to be able to organize my favorites in to groups. For instance, If I was shopping for my mom or sister, then I could give that group of items a name to make it easy to go back and view.
How do you promote your work?
I have a blog about my work and my family life. Also, I twitter and flickr. I have been lucky to have some features on some pretty cool blogs (thank you). And I recently participated in a fundraiser for the BIG Crafty that was organized by Lark Books with the possibility of having my donated work in a book. I contributed to a book that was published through Affa Books called My Kids with My Crafts Also, this summer I was interviewed by PBS for a show called Kentucky Life that is soon to air! The cool thing is… the book and interview happened all because of my Etsy store!!
In ten years I’d like to be…