I’m Regina Groleau from South Lyon, Michigan (love to the mitten!). My shop Oh, Albatross focuses on unusual and useful vintage finds, as well as handmade soft sculptures.
I love old stories, fables and folklore. The albatross was long believed to carry the souls of sailors lost at sea, which is an appropriate description of the goods in my shop: sailors and lost souls. My pieces almost always have their own little story to tell: a small struggle, fierce joy or particular way they like to take their tea. I also see stories in the vintage goods I find. From industrial pieces that were once strong and mighty factory staples to soft, delicate finds that graced gentle parlors, they are instant storytellers.
As a child, I spent many weekends combing yard sales and rummage sales, but it took many years to see how much I prized this “found” portion of my life. I let it evolve slowly and naturally, which I think has been a great luxury to my shop. Oh, Albatross become what it is out of love and curiosity, not a calculated catering to current trends. The animals were their own accident. I wanted to know if I could make one, and then I couldn’t stop. Making a form out of fabric and seeing it take shape and come to life is satisfying in a way I still don’t quite understand.
I spend my days and weekends foraging for vintage finds – things that delight, things filled with old beauty, and things that can be brought back to life. You can often find me in forgotten corners and old barns, looking for that perfect bit of magic. I drag it all home, clean it up (or sometimes not…some things are best left untouched) and find it a new home. In the evenings I make my little animaux –foxes, rabbits, squirrels, birds and bears. (I seem to have a strong affinity for the forest folk!) Each one is made by hand, and each personality is created from carefully-placed stitches. I often think of the process as a very slow form of people watching, where every stitch creates a whole new expression.
Working for myself has been nothing but a long experiment. Every day there is something new to learn, and something new to try. Having your hand in every single aspect of the business – from making to marketing to ugh, taxes – keeps you on your toes and keeps your brain working. One day I’m teaching myself HTML so I can get that one little thing just right on my blog, and the next I’m learning how to whittle, because birds would be so much better with a wooden beak. Selling on Etsy has been such a wonderful experience for me. Not only do I straight-up love my job, but there are many shopkeepers and customers I’ve met that I’m now proud to call friends.
All photographs by Oh, Albatross.