Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
My name is Karla Anderson, but I like to be called Mathilde. I was born in Worcester, MA, but I live in South Florida with my parents, my wonderful boyfriend, and some cute critters. My boyfriend and I (along with some of the aforementioned critters) are moving to Portland, Oregon at the end of the summer. In mid-August, I will be graduating from Florida International University with a B.A. in International Relations. I used to love the subject, but it wore me out. It’s great to come back from class and do something simple and mechanical like crocheting a carrot. I get very productive with crafts whenever school is in session!
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
Well… aside from stuff in art classes at school (the usual poorly-formed clay pots and the like), I really didn’t make a lot of stuff by hand until a few years ago. My mom used to sew all of our clothes and even grow and can our food, but she had moved on to a regular job by the time I finally got interested in learning how to do those things. One day I decided that I would teach myself how to make EVERYTHING. I claimed her old sewing machine, named it Maxine, and started clumsily making things that were far too complex for my skill level. I think the first thing I actually completed was a kimono. I drafted the pattern myself, and, surprisingly, it’s still intact and functional.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
Visually, I’m drawn to plants and food. I always find myself loitering in the produce section. I’ve even bought artichokes just to photograph them. Conceptually, my main inspirations are Dada and my skewed sense of humor. For example, people tell me that my anthropomorphic veggies are cute, but I make them because they’re sick and wrong. If you put them in your kitchen, they’re the veggie equivalent of happy cartoon cows on a steakhouse menu. How can you eat your salad as a carrot looks on in horror, or as a tomato smiles in blissful ignorance of its terrible destiny?
The world seems a bit queer to me, and a lot of my stuff is an inside joke with myself about that oddness. On a more simplistic level, if something I created makes me giggle, I know I’ve done it right.
What are your favorite materials?
I am very impatient, so I like materials that don’t require a lot of preparation or finishing. Felt and fleece are great for this. I love making pillows out of interesting napkins. Buttons are pretty awesome. My mom used to find cool buttons and make an entire article of clothing for me based on them, and she passed on the button fetish to me.
What is your favorite color?
Green. It’s the color of life. I also love brown, and my room is painted a very deep shade of blue.
Any tips on selling handmade stuff?
Space out your Etsy listings so that you end up on the first page of the category often but without flooding it, blog about your creations, and don’t be afraid to approach local shops about carrying your stuff. You’ll be amazed by how open, friendly, and supportive they can be.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I don’t have a “real” job and regular activities because I’m in pre-moving limbo, and my main leisure activity is spending way too much time on the Internet. I’m an information junkie. I spend tons of time on Wikipedia, and I read as often as possible. Last semester fried my brain a little, so my reading isn’t as intense as it was last summer, which I spent devouring War and Peace, among other massive tomes of dense Russian literature. (It was awesome.) I write poetry that I never publish, and I do a lot of artsy photography. I’m a critter mom to several wonderful pets, all of whom came from shelters or directly from owners who could no longer take care of them. Since my boyfriend and I are vegans and not into eating a lot of processed food, I make most of our meals from scratch; I sometimes even make my own soy milk. I bake and cook almost every day. My scones could beat up your scones any day of the week!
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
I would love a links section on the profile page to make it easier for people to share their blogs or other projects. A larger photo on the profile page would be rad, and a small gallery of maybe 4 or 5 photos would be even better. It would add to the personal feel that Etsy has cultivated. I would also love to be able to organize my items by category and set which items appear first, rather than being stuck with chronological order as the default. However, the site is gorgeous, and I love using it.