Tell us a bit about yourself.
We are two sisters, Chelsea McCann and Marlo Cochran. We are Portland, Oregon natives, raised in the Pacific Northwest by two hardworking and creative parents. Growing up we were always exposed to crafts. Perhaps as a way of keeping us from getting underfoot, our parents always had some kind of project set up to entice us. From painting and drawing to glass work and metal casting, any kind of art was possible in our home.
To support a very expensive craft habit, Chelsea started Sundries and Plunder and asked Marlo to join in, adding her support, creativity and non-stop entertainment. It took a few months to get things going, but we’ve been thrilled with the experience. We have very different personalities, and working together allows us to draw off each other’s strengths.
Chelsea: I live in the southwest fringes of Portland, leading the management efforts for the shop. I live with my fabulous family and two sweet puppies, in the ultra ’60s house that my sister and I grew up in. I am creative, amusing, caring, thoughtful, stubborn at times, and rarely extroverted.
Marlo: I live in Bend, Oregon with my sweetie, Jason and the newest addition to our family, Nora Too Short…the cat. I think people would say that I’m funny (but looks aren’t everything), creative, sensitive, thoughtful, loving and a ridiculous goofball.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Chelsea: I am a mom to a wonderful 2-year-old boy, a loving wife to my favorite person in the world, and I am a landscape architect, designing sustainable urban landscapes and waterfronts in the western states.
Marlo: I laugh a lot, read cookbooks, listen to children’s audio books, sing at the top of my lungs, make lists, haunt thrift stores for vintage treasures and make people smile as often as humanly possible.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Chelsea: Keeping Up With Bicycles. I have to thank my husband for the title, but it’s based on the embarrassing fact that I didn’t think it was necessary to learn to ride a bike until I was 12. I just ran alongside my sister and friends while they rode. To this day, I am frequently willing to take on impossible and sometimes ill-advised challenges. On occasion, I’m even successful.
Marlo: What the KERFRICKER Just Happened?!? It would be a collection of short stories about chapters of my life with titles including, “Bullets, Tupperware and Porn,” about my horrifying stint as a delivery driver in rural Idaho for a wretched company that rhymes with DeadFlecks, “I’m Just Saying…,” and “Where in Hades Have All the Normal People Gone?” It’ll be riveting!
Where does your inspiration come from?
Chelsea: I find that almost anything can be inspiring, given the right moment — the stunning beauty of the Northwest, the sleek sexiness of mid-century modern, and lovely little natural oddities. I am also inspired by the talent and ambition of my fellow Etsians. It isn’t easy to pour your heart into creating something and then put it out there to see if anyone else will love it.
Marlo: I never know when inspiration is going to strike, which is why I make lists. I can’t remember a darn thing unless I write it down and my lists are often accompanied by intricate doodles, charts and graphs. Actually the lists themselves often spark even more ideas! I have notebooks and notebooks of them.
What does handmade mean to you?
Chelsea: Handmade is not only having an object you love, but appreciating the journey of the process. I like knowing that for a brief time, someone’s only focus in the world was on creating the object you hold in your hand.
Marlo: Handmade means that a creation has been given a little bit of heart and soul. A smidgen of the artist/creator can be felt by the lucky person that each piece is endowed to. I definitely put my heart and soul into every little treasure that I create.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
Chelsea: Growing up in a craft-centric home, I was the little sister, always trying to keep up with Marlo and her limitless creativity. Later in life, I have found my own footing, but it was my parents’ support and openness, along with the challenge of a talented older sister, that influenced me to become what I am.
Marlo: Many artists and craftspeople inspire me, but I’d have to say that I am the most “influenced” by my sister, Chelsea, my mom, and my dad. They are all unbelievably creative, artistic, talented and encouraging. I value their opinions above all others.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
Chelsea: I don’t think there’s a moment of knowing. You either are or you aren’t, and if you are, you know it from the start. Creating has always been a part of my life and I can tell by the anxious feeling that I get if I’m not using my hands. Creating is a way to find personal achievement in something small and lovely. I’m not sure what I would do with myself if I weren’t making things. I would probably just play video games.
Marlo: Very early. Kindergarten perhaps? I remember that my mom did not put me in a certain school specifically because they had a “two drawing limit” per student per day. Totally unacceptable. I was already drawing, painting and creating like mad long before that.
How would you describe your creative process?
Chelsea: I can’t say that I have a specific process. For me it’s a result of daydreaming and experimenting. I frequently have concepts pop into my head or I see something that sparks an idea and I feel compelled to try it out. Some ideas are great successes, and others end up in my drawers of half finished projects and total disasters. I think the important thing is being willing to go for it, because I never know when I might end up with a treasure.
Marlo: I’ll think about a project for weeks before I begin, but when I finally feel okay with a plan, I’ll pop in an audio book and be utterly focused. I’m content in my own little whimsical world.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Chelsea: I’ve tried to answer this question about 15 times now. I love many different artists, and am always picking new favorites depending on my mood or new discoveries. I think today, I will choose Jacob Redmond. He’s a tattoo artist in Portland, and I stumbled upon some of his work in a local coffee shop recently. I love the texture, energy and quirkiness of his work. I’m working to convince my husband to buy a piece.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Chelsea: An andalucite and gold ring that was made by my dad. The ring is made of gorgeous stone in an even more gorgeous setting. My mom has it right now, but someday it will be mine. Mark my words…
Marlo: A sterling silver and turquoise necklace that my dad made for me. It’s gorgeous beyond words!
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Chelsea: I have a glass of wine and knit. I find that it’s just a matter of waiting it out and not worrying too much about the rut. It will pass. It always does.
Marlo: I call Chelsea.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Chelsea: Enjoying a peaceful life with my gorgeous husband, creating every day, and watching my sweet son grow up.
Marlo: Creating art full time in my loft studio looking out over my sweetie’s studio, taking a variety of cooking classes, and be singing a few nights a week at one of the local coffee houses or pubs downtown for fun. Basically just enjoying a quiet, cozy life.