Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
My name is Amy Moore and I live in a tiny town in the mountains of Western North Carolina with my beautiful almost-four year old daughter where, thanks in large part to Etsy, I’ve become a full time studio artist in the last year. When I say studio I really mean dining room table/back patio, but hopefully that will change soon. Before that I worked as a massage therapist, pastry chef, greenhouse worker, glassblower, barista, and florist, among other livelihoods. In between all of those I built my skills by spending three sessions at the Penland School of Craft surrounded by incredible artists and crafts persons, in addition to several classes at other schools in various media. Though my ideas are touched by my childhood in New England and my time in the Berkshire mountains, New Orleans, Florida, and the Piedmont of North Carolina, it’s the Appalachian mountains where I’ve settled which inspire me the most.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
Growing up within 45 minutes of the ocean I spent lots of time in the tide pools and marshes on the Connecticut coast, where I have memories of patting piles of wet sand together into castles with shell windows and drippy turrets made by scooping handfuls of really wet sand and dribbling them into lumpy spires and stalagmites.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
I get most of my ideas while on rambles through the fields and woods around where I live. Images of crop circles and sacred geometry have been fascinating me lately as well. I love to be around friends who are motivated, compassionate, and not wasting any time living their passions. The works of Andy Goldsworthy and the poetry of Mary Oliver have been big influences. Cirque de Soleil is high on my list of creative favorites. And good music is ever-present in the studio.
What are your favorite materials?
It’s simply not possible for me to settle on just one favorite medium, though I’ve spent my lifetime trying. I’m currently enjoying metal clay and melting whatever I can get my torch on, though my love of handmade papers and bookbinding is never far from my mind. I love knitting with recycled sari silk and my thrifted fabric stash is getting out of hand while my sewing machine sits broken and neglected. I was into glassblowing and fusing for years, though I don’t miss the heat and the glass slivers. I fantasize about digging up the local red clay to build into fire-baked pots. And lately I’ve been surrounded by wood workers and have become fascinated by hand carved spoons and bowls. I imagine someday I’ll sit on the porch and paint the sky every day when I have more time and patience.
What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
There have been so many wonderful connections with countless sellers and Etsy staff from whom I’ve received inspiration, motivation, ideas, fantastic barters, friendship, and answers to tons of questions. This is truly an amazing community that has helped to reshape my entire life.
And I have to give extra thanks to Chuck D. Of DowntotheWireDesigns for all the advice and support, especially in my early Etsy days, and who also convinced me that it was just a matter of time before I was a featured seller. I believe you now!
Why should people buy handmade?
It’s tough to really enjoy buying anything when one is conscious of the realities of the industrialized world and the abuse of people and environments and communities along an object’s path.
I like buying handmade because I like to know whose hands touched my totally unique shirt or plate or soap. It’s even better if I can learn something about the creator- it helps me feel a stronger connection to the object and how it came to me.
I’m lucky to live in a place where there is a long history of and appreciation for the creation of beautiful, functional objects from local materials with simple tools using techniques passed down for generations. For me, buying handmade encourages these connections between individuals and communities and history.
What features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?
Short of Etsy doing my taxes for me at year’s end, a traveling Etsy festival for staff and admin to sell and mingle in person, and some more specific shipping options such as a choice of first class or priority, I can’t think of anything I’d change. Etsy is brilliant and I can hardly imagine my life without it.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Listen to lots of music, roam around the mountains with my camera, hang out with my family and friends, read The Sun magazine, watch melancholy foreign films and random documentaries, and dream about my next garden.
Read any good books lately?
Tim Barnwell’s On Earth’s Furrowed Brow, portraits and oral histories of Appalachian farmers,
Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons, and The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Living as self-sustainably as possible in a little house in the woods with my loved ones and spending lots of time in the garden and my sunny studio. Or living in the south of France eating stinky cheese and crusty bread with local wine for lunch before traipsing down old farm roads on a creaky blue bicycle to the local village for a post-siesta truffle or two, all the while enjoying my free health care and lengthy paid vacations.