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Apr. 15th, 2011

PaganTeam

Interview with GreenFingers by Frogget

Hello, I recently got to interview a member of our team and one of my favorite artists, Greenfingers! Join us as I learn how all of that awesomeness comes to Etsy.  
 

Frogget: What is your artistic Process? 
Do you sit down and know exactly what you’re going to make that day?   Do you work a project from beginning to end in one sitting or do you work it bit by bit as you have time?   Do you work on one project at a time or multiple projects?   Who/What inspires you to create your Art or write?
 

Greenfingers: When you ask about my artistic process, there really are three different kinds--one for knitting, one for creating the nature spirits and amulets, and one for writing. 

Creating the sacred items is bizarrely unpredictable and haphazard. It either starts with someone requesting something for a specific purpose, or with a sudden, out of the blue, desperate need to create something with a specific energy.  From there it goes something like this: walk around outside. Find interesting things on the ground that feel right. Bring them in to the studio. Stare at them. Move them around. Stare some more. Put them together with wire or fabric or twine. Stare again. Drink tea. Dig through boxes of beads, fabric, random found items until I find more things that feel right. Move them around. Stare again. Drink MORE tea. Finally get them to where they feel right, and charge the results with reiki. Done. 

Knitted projects are much different. I'm really fussy and meticulous with knitting--which is probably why knitted projects take me so long. It's a perfect outlet for my more uptight qualities--I can indulge to my hearts content in my "it has to be perfect dammit!" tendencies. It's very satisfying, but also requires a lot of focus. Oddly enough, I do the most knitting when I'm under the most stress. I guess it's a way to turn all that anxiety in to something awesome. The downside of this is that I'll often go months at a time without knitting. Where with the nature spirits and charms I tend to just float around until it feels right, with knitting I do a lot of planning, a lot of swatches, a lot of ripping out stitches. And while I don't PLAN the embroidered part of the designs, I do a lot of tearing out and re-stitching there too. It's maybe a little bit crazypants, but I'm usually happy with the results--so that means it's worth it, right? RIGHT? 



KNITTED HEART


Writing is a different beast. Where do stories come from? Everywhere. Nowhere. A lot of my work is inspired by folk and fairy tales, and oddly enough, several of my short stories were inspired by songs. For example, Visitation, which appeared on my blog in February (http://greenwoman.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/first-sunday-short-fiction-visitation/), was inspired by the Iron and Wine song "Boy with a Coin". 

When I write something--whether it's a short story or something longer--I start out by doing a detailed plot outline. Then I sit down and write, following my outline, in a big rush. I don't fix spelling errors or worry about grammar or anything, I just bang the thing out. Then I take a break for a little while and work on something else--usually a couple of weeks, sometimes longer. Then I go back and reread the whole thing, reading only for the flow of the story, cutting out things that don't seem to fit or that aren't necessary, looking for holes in the plot, etc. I spend a lot of time working on getting the plot coherent, and THEN I start the more detailed editing of character motivations, relationships, etc. And then, after everything about the STRUCTURE works, I go through and work on the writing itself. I guess it's like building a house: make sure the foundation and structure is solid first, then add the walls and flooring, the stuff that makes the house complete, and only THEN do I decorate the house. Between each editing pass, I take a break to work on something else and get some distance, so when I start the next editing run I come to the story refreshed.  

The thing about writing is that everyone has a different process. I'm still learning about mine, so who knows? It will probably change over the coming years. 
 
Frogget: How long have you been knitting and why did you start? 

Greenfingers: I've been knitting for about six years. I started because I love scarves, and I love yarn. I immediately became addicted. 
 
Frogget: What is your craft space like? Do you have a dedicated space? Messy Organized? 

Greenfingers: I have several work spaces. I suppose that means that I leave messes everywhere. I knit and embroider in bed or at my desk, mostly. I write on my laptop wherever seems good at the time--most often at my desk, but sometimes in bed or at the library or a coffee shop. And I have a little trailer that I've turned in to a (messy) studio where I make all of my sacred items. I find that it's best to have a dedicated site for all the things that use twigs and herbs--otherwise my carpet is always littered with plant matter. And goddess only knows what bits of herbs would do to my laptop. I really don't want to find out. 

Solar Goddess

Frogget: Can you tell me a bit about your garden/land?    You mention a Curly Willow Tree and a multitude of herbs in your listing, as well as a Rose Bush. Sounds beautiful! 

Greenfingers: My husband and I own about an acre. I have a large herb/flower garden, and we also have several big raised beds that we grow vegetables in. We also keep egg and meat chickens. You can see all kinds of pictures of the place on my blog. Here's a link to an entry that shows the "farm"--photos taken from the roof of my studio.  http://greenwoman.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/a-view-of-the-farm/ 

And there's a photo of wreaths in progress under the curly willow in this post, along with more pictures of the garden:

http://greenwoman.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/august-on-the-farm/ 

I love my herb garden especially! It pretty much takes up the whole front yard, and almost everything in my shop comes from it, except for the knitted items. At this point I'd have to bore you to death to list everything growing there. 

 
Frogget: Can you tell me a bit about your spiritual path? Who do you most identify with? Do you practice with your family? a local group? Just us Etsyians?

 
Greenfingers: My spiritual path is very free-form and eclectic. I use the term "pagan" because it's handy--my spiritual path is very earthy. I don't do a lot of formal ceremony or magic, and I don't take part in a lot of ritual . . . instead, I feel that life is an ongoing conversation with spirit, the divine, whatever you want to call it. Every action is part of this path--cooking a meal, vacuuming my floor, making my bed is no less sacred than healing or art or music. The only difference is in my own awareness--so I strive to become more perfectly aware of the presence of spirit in each moment. Of course I don't always succeed, hence using the term "spiritual PRACTICE".  

I am mostly solitary, though my husband and I occasionally do ceremony together, and I do healing work with most of my friends and my family. I do attend a crystal journey circle every 6 weeks, where a group of us meditate with specific stones and share our experiences. And occasionally I meet with a group of women to observe one of the seasonal festivals, especially Imbolc and Samhain. 

The deities I identify strongly with are Brighid, Mary Magdalene, and the Green Man. But I also have a strong relationship with the spirits of the land I live on--I don't know what you'd call them, faeries or devas or what, I just know that they are very abundant and have no problem making themselves known to us. 

 

 


Craft Your Own Smudge Stick

Frogget: Do you have any advice for people who are new to the team?  

Greenfingers: My advice would be to build relationships with other Etsians and especially team members--that's where most of your sales and your word of mouth promotion are going to come from, and where you're going to get the most support and advice. Also, why be on a team if you don't want to get to know the other people on it? 
 
Frogget: Do you have any advice for people who are new to Etsy?  

Greenfingers: Yes. Please, for god's sake, read the FAQ section, and the Do's and Don'ts. ALL OF THEM. Preferably BEFORE you open a shop, but at the very least immediately after, and DEFINITELY before you go asking people questions. Etsy is excellent at posting all the information you need to know--make full use of the resources offered to you.

Jan. 13th, 2011

PaganTeam

Interview With Earth Star Studios

This interview with Earth Star Studios was conducted by Green Fingers



GF: So . . . you probably get this all the time, but when and how did you realize you "wanted to be an artist"? Have you always created artwork, or was there some "ah ha" moment when you felt the urge and new this was what you wanted to do?

ESS: I was always a very creative child so I don't remember a time when the desire to create wasn't with me. As I got older and less and less art was included in school it became clear to me that this was not something I could leave behind like so many do as they grow up.
When I went to college I had the idea that I couldn't be a successful artist, but I started taking art classes anyway because that fire in me would not stop burning. I couldn't ignore it, even though I tried.
When it all came together for me though, was after I'd had 2 of my children very close together. I went for a very long time without creating anything and then my spiral dancers just started pouring out of me. It was the first time I had successful combined my spirituality with my creative expression and it felt like I'd finally found my way
home after a long journey.

Oh, My Beloved - original watercolor print


GF: What's your process like? Are you a steady worker or does it go in fits and starts? I'm always curious to know how someone gets the work done in the midst of the other tasks in life.

ESS: I'm raising and homeschooling my 4 young children so my work is definitely not steady. However, I credit these breaks with giving me the time to visualize my paintings so thoroughly before I ever begin painting that I very rarely make any mistakes or have to do them over again. This does, in fact, save an incredible amount of time in regards to the physical work of making the art. That being said, many of the paintings have ended up quite different than what I imagined them to be be, but I think for me that planning stage in the beginning is crucial. I'm an impatient person, unfortunately, and I ruined many a painting before I had children by rushing the process.

GF: What do you hope people get out of your work? And what do YOU get out of your work? What's the biggest reward for you?

ESS: I hope that women (as well as men) can look at my work and see themselves or their version of the goddess within the images I've created. That's why I've intentionally left the faces of the spiral dancers featureless. I hope that they not only experience the images as beautiful, but filled with a kind of energy that they can "collect" from viewing or having my artwork in their personal space. I hope that they see representations of powerful women who are also joyful and fulfilled. I paint most of the spiral dancers as nudes for this reason- they are unhindered, free, unashamed of who they are. Yet I leave out details like nipples and pubic hair (as well as hands and feet!) in hopes that viewers will understand I'm not trying to sexualize them by presenting them nude. Sexuality is a sacred and wonderful thing, but my point is that I'm not trying to paint just about the physical female body but rather the energy of the spirit that is contained
within it.
For me, this is also a personal journey about healing issues I've had with my body for as long as I can remember. By creating women/goddesses who are so free and alive I chip away at that deeply engrained idea that I should not love my body, nor my female nature, because it's sinful/dirty/less-than. However, the most rewarding aspect of painting is that it is the closest I've ever come to feeling truly connected to the Divine. When I'm in the "zone" where everything is flowing I can be truly present, which is rare in my life. It's my form of meditation and is profoundly good for my well-being.

  
Danu: Print

GF: Would you be willing to share a little bit about your personal spiritual path? How do you describe it? What would you say is the core of your path or worldview? Are you dedicated to any specific deities? Would you like to share those with us, and tell us a little bit about how you came to identify with/work with them?

ESS: My spiritual path is very ecclectic and solitary, and always has been.
I discovered that there was a name for what I was when I was about 14, but I never found one single way of being Pagan that fit me entirely. I think coming from a Fundamentalist Baptist background made me very leary of rigid structure when it came to my spirituality. It's hard to summarize my beliefs briefly but the core of them would have to be that we are all connected and part of the same energy. I am able to sense the life and awareness/consciousness in all things - trees, rocks, even homes and man-made objects. Sensing this has been a great blessing. It is my way of being reminded that it is the invisible aspects of life that are the most powerful and the most magical despite the theatre that might be happening on the surface.

Up until recently I did not identify with any specific deities, and I viewed the Goddess and God as symbolic figureheads for that single life energy that flows through us all. I don't know why, but last year I started having very powerful visionary experiences similar to Shamanic journeying. During those experiences I had personal encounters with three goddesses: Gaia, Aphrodite and Brigid. They were intense, vivid and felt very real, but the most surprising detail was that none of the goddesses appeared to me how I would have expected them to be. My first encounter with Brigid was the most profound
spiritual experience of my life, and during it she claimed me as her daughter. So without any formal ritual or any personal community to declare it in, my heart was given to her. I continue to connect to all three and I have come to believe that they are truly individual
expressions of energy that exist on a plane outside of our normal awareness.

The Sacred Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water Greeting Card