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Featured Seller: lilfishstudio

Dec 17, 2008

by lilfishstudios

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Lisa Jordan. I live in rural Minnesota on 10 wooded acres with my brilliant husband, 3 unruly boys, and an assortment of furry and feathered hangers-on. We’re expecting a new baby on New Year’s Eve (a girl!) at which point complete pandemonium will rule the Jordan household.

I really enjoy the creative process in all incarnations and never tire of learning new things. This makes life interesting, but makes the studio jam-packed with supplies and doodads of every conceivable type. Next on my list is learning to spin (I will learn to use that spinning wheel, I swear) and I would love to have a sheep or an alpaca to add to our furry menagerie. I have yet to convince the hubby how beneficial said livestock would be.

I grew up with a dad who allowed me free run of the tools in his workshop and while I learned to run the drills, saws, and sanders, I also grew to appreciate the art of craftsmanship (and quickly learned to love the mantra “measure twice, cut once”). It was from him that I learned my attention to detail.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Much of my time is spent with my boys, but when I’m not cleaning up messes, breaking up fights, or squashing their plans for world domination, I can generally be found outside. We all enjoy walking in the woods, looking for agates, and wandering along the lakeshore, picking up beach stones. Basically, anything that gets our hands dirty and allows us to get a closer look at nature, is good with us.

I love cooking and baking, especially with the food we grow in our large garden, or the wild treats we find in the woods. This summer we enjoyed wild blueberries, juneberries, hazelnuts, and more, and there’s something really satisfying about eating food that you’ve gathered with your own hands. I also make a wicked from-scratch deep dish pizza and we celebrate pizza night every Friday.

I’m a devout thrift-store shopper and look forward to trips into town to scour the Salvation Army or Goodwill for crafting materials. I’m a collector of vintage buttons and my little collection has taken up much of my working space in the studio (after all, I have roughly 300 pounds of buttons down there).

What first made you want to become an artist?

I’m fairly sure I’ve always wanted to be an artist, though if you read my 3rd grade journal, it will also indicate that I would have liked to have also been a professional baseball player, lawyer, or truck driver…

I took college art courses while in High School, and pursued my studio art degree while in the workforce. So while I was working in corporate America managing call centers and service centers, the urge to express myself creatively was still there. It wasn’t until I had my third child that I left “work” and had more freedom to pursue art as a career choice. My husband discovered Etsy through a technical blog and shared it with me, thus creating my Etsy addiction and opening doors for me that might not otherwise have been opened.

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.

I’m incapable of keeping a sketchbook (which used to really frustrate my professors). I’m one who just sits down and “does”. I’d really like to keep a sketchbook, I find the idea of a molskine stuffed with ideas and doodles and notes terribly romantic, I just can’t seem to commit so I sit down with my scissors and thread and just see what happens. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always fun.

I’ve found that with having the 3 boys at home, two of which are toddlers, small moveable projects suit me best at this time, or projects that they can “help” with. Because of this, my easel and canvases are set aside, and sewing and felting projects are my main pursuits. I’m completely smitten with working with fiber, especially felted wool sweater material and wool roving, and am really enjoying exploring both of them. I’m influenced by texture and patina and that alone will be enough to spark an idea for me. I love having a palette of worn leather, vintage buttons, and nubby wool lain out in front of me and enough time just to create what comes to mind.

I’m deeply influenced by nature and that is often reflected in the colors, patterns, and textures I choose.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

I have a collection of antique wooden dough and butter bowls that I adore. (they often turn up in my photos) I find it beautiful that the texture and patina that I so admire in them came from years of practical use by people who have long since passed. I can’t help but hope that some of what I make and put out in the world will be appreciated in this way as well.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.

Books:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Wild plant and animal field guides

Tough Cookie (it’s a kid’s book that my boys adore) by Diane Mott Davidson

Movies:

Cool Hand Luke

Amelie

Reality Bites

The Godfather trilogy

Say Anything

Music:

U2

BB King

Johnny Cash

Aretha Franklin

Alternative music from the ‘80s – any excuse to do my best Molly Ringwald dance…

Websites:

Flickr

The Onion

Twitter

Mother Earth News

I have a number of blogs on my reader, many of which I’m completely addicted to such as The Craft Mag blog and The EcoEtsy Team blog.

What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

Because your customers aren’t able to see and touch your item in person, your descriptions become pretty important. Be sure to include dimensions, medium, color, etc. so they don’t have to assume what something looks like or is made of.

Open communication is really helpful in building a rapport with your customers. Little things like thanking them for their purchase, responding promptly to their inquiries, and treating them with professionalism go a long way towards building a continuing relationship.

Keep fueling your own creativity. It’s great to have a top seller in your shop, but don’t forget to take time to think of new projects to engage in. You can find inspiration in others’ work, but always make it your own, and by all means, enjoy what you do (that last one is extra important)!

What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?

I really love the member-curated treasuries and Pounce. Both introduce me to new artists and I am amazed daily at the jaw-droppingly awesome diversity of talent on this site. I think this has been said before, but the community that makes up Etsy is by far my favorite feature. I have met some of the most wonderful people, both customers and fellow sellers, here. So many of which share their inspiration, techniques, and daily life adventures, and many of whom I consider friends.

I would like more tools available to me for managing my shop. For example, the ability to arrange items within my shop without re-listing them, bulk uploading of photos, a preview during the listing process that shows what the image would look like when viewed in gallery mode, the ability to add state sales tax to an order, and for the notes to buyer to be visible before the customer completes the final step of checkout.

How do you promote your work?

Since we live rurally and I don’t get out much, I focus my marketing online. I upload my photos to various groups on flickr, I twitter about my work, I share happenings on my blog, and participate in two Etsy Street Teams – Eco Etsy, and the Etsy Minnesota Street Team. Of course, I do wear my work and carry business cards when I do go out, but I’m admittedly still awkward when it comes to that “here’s my card” moment.

In ten years I’d like to be…

My full-scale dream of Lil Fish Studios is to have a physical space that will house studio space, offer guest speakers and teachers, as well as a gallery space for local budding artists. I hope to be closer to making that dream a reality.

I hope to be able to spend more time with my husband doing the things we enjoy together such as SCUBA diving, boating, and dining out (alone, without kids, grown up style).

I also hope to be shearing my alpaca while wearing a scarf that I’ve knitted myself out of yarn I spun on my wheel.

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