Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
My name is Jam, as in ben’jam’in, and I belong to the crab nebula, residing on planet zoot, situated in Austin, TX. I love to craft, krump, ropeswing, dance until my grizzled stumps give in, and soft rock out. I’m 23, work at the library during the day, and look forward to every moment I can work in my studio.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
I have a hazy childhood of delicious dreamsicles, I think my craft gear kicked into action later in life. My yang, Dithers, lent me her sewing machine about two winters ago and I made a pleated vest from pants, a bandana, and sweater. I learned a lot through random guesswork and it’s my favorite craftulation.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
I’m inspired by everything, I have ADD. I get bursts of ideas for clothing and gifts and I’ve been keeping a stack of notebooks for a few years. I find something I like in most things, so I am inspired by a lot in a day: Phil Collins’ power ballads, beautiful sunburn peeling skin, those old twister popsicles with the double flavors, electro and metal bands Crossover and Slayer, grackle birds, garbage pail kids, and fond memories of my friends now and then. I usually go through a notebook a week, and then I will wade through the scraps and sketches to pick something I can feasibly create and have fun along the way.
What are your favorite materials?
I like foamies craft foam sheets, recycled fabrics from the savers, neon pom-poms, and glow-in-the-dark thread/paint/anything.
What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
Crafting builds community, so enjoy the giving and helping as much as getting sales and compliments. I get really excited when I meet new people or see new stores open, the freshest Etsy babies have so much upward growing to do and I treasure the folks who gave me support and direction along the way. Shout out to cubistliterature.etsy.com and ruffeoheartslilsnotty.etsy.com, my inspirations and crafters for life.
Why should people buy handmade?
No doi, because handmade and homemade are a tangible relationship between buyer and seller, all part of the craft world. When someone buys something from me, I get to learn a bit about whom they are and what they appreciate, which fuels future purchases and gifts toward them. I love making things by hand for Etsy because I learn about my peer sellers and buyers, and we get to interact in a different way then buying something at an orban utfidders, etc. I think handmade inspires more people to take on their ideas and exercise the craft love muscle.
What features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?
A gift basket/trade feature between sellers. I want to collaborate with designers and make a grab bag of our items and cards, then maybe raffle/auction/donate it to a good person or cause.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I work at the downtown library in Austin on Sunday through Wednesday. Thursday through Saturday is playtime! I get 6 feet down with my horror movies, especially the Italian horror goregasms of Lucio Fulci—“The Beyond” is the bomb.edu. I splash in the watering holes with sweet lady Dithers and crew, and cool down with some shaved ice or dippin dots if I’ve been on my best behavior. I also birdwatch, meditate, krump and klown, and party down with dollar drinks on Thursday nights!
Read any good books lately?
Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong is my bible, and I keep an ongoing batch of sewing and crafting books from my library. My favorite pleasure books are the mini Dover stencil and craft books I permanently borrowed from my parents’ house: so good!
In ten years I’d like to be…
Working for the American Red Cross or a hospital supplier, outfitting patients in special needs and treatment centers. I’m applying to fashion school in New York City for January and I hope to get a degree in fashion design and patternmaking. I love streetwear and sportswear and I hope to merge them with new designs and fabrics for people in burn centers, physical therapy, and outpatient services. I love modifying garment closures, reinforcing important areas, and directing the eye to embrace our unique bodies. I will always love Etsy and hopefully I can find my audiences for designs that help us feel comfier, fresher, and funkier wherever we interact at the fabric level.