Sunday, 29 July 2012

Favourite Shops - Willow and Quail

I've tried my hand at doing things with felt a few times and failed miserably but Willow and Quail have the cutest little felted animals with a real Scandinavian vibe. I was surprised to read how much Jessi and I have in common, well both being special needs teachers and drawing horses from such a young age!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Jessi, and I’m a middle school special education teacher/aspiring artist. I grew up in a family of “makers” and have always needed to have my hands busy creating something! I have two dogs, two cats, a lovely husband, and our first baby due in three months!

Describe your craft 
Yikes! Which one? I like to keep busy, so I’m always dabbling in different type of art. Currently I have two Etsy shops (Willow & Quail and Dream of a Dream) where I sell sewn magnets, needle-felted critters, metal clay jewelry, and original paintings.

How did you get started with your craft? 
I think my love for sewing started with counted cross-stitch when I was a teenager. I then started working with felt, which I could create more 3-dimensional pieces with. I sold my sewn crafts at craft shows for the past 15 years, before diving into the metal-clay world. This spring my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first baby (yay!), and I wanted a safer medium to work with than the metal clays. I dug out my sewing supplies, and have been having a blast creating magnets and pins since then! Since my main shop is all bronze or silver, it’s been sooo refreshing to work with color!

What is your earliest crafting memory? 
I specifically remember having an “autograph” book when I was 5 that I drew horses in, over and over again. That was the first time I realized that I could recreate an image from the world around me. Other than that, I remember making a lot of those pot-holders on the old plastic looms in the 80’s. Those were awesome!
What are your favorite materials to work with/favorite mediums?  
I love working with pure wool, as I think it’s a higher quality and more natural than synthetic material. At the moment anything with a lot of color is appealing to me. 

How did you come up with your store name? 
I go for a nightly walk with my dogs on a country road near our house, and there is this gorgeous old farm with a big willow tree in front of it. I love the way willows sway in the wind, and perhaps you could call that place my dream-farm. We have lots of California quail who come through our yard with their families, and they always seem like they are talking to each other in their own language. Since our mountain winters are cold and snowy, most birds migrate, but the quail are our companions year-round. So the combination between these two beauties created the inspiration for my store name 
Apart from creating things, what do you do?  
I work full time as a middle school special education teacher. I think middle school is the toughest time to try and get through school, and for the students I work with, it’s especially difficult. I love watching my students grow into independent young adults by the time they move on to high school. I use my creativity in the classroom, which I believe is vital for keeping my kids motivated and making connections.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration can come from the most random places, from the way shadows dance on the floor, to fallen leaves that have gathered on the ground. I try and keep a journal to scribble down ideas when they come to me, but in traditional artist fashion, I usually can’t find the journal when I need it!
What does handmade mean to you? 
I think handmade differs for each person, and my definition changes as I get older. Personally, if I could raise the baby sheep that I would someday sheer, and spin the wool to create my own handmade felt, that would be the closest to handmade that I could get! But until then, I think handmade is anything where you see an image or idea in your mind, and find a way to create it with tangible items. I shy away from mass-produced machine-made “stuff” made overseas, and I try my best to support individual artists who are keeping their craft alive.
What handmade possession do you most cherish? 
Hmmm… that would definitely be a “quillow” (half quilt, half pillow) my Grandma made me when I was little. The first time I moved away from home and was living in Alaska by myself, I felt really alone and homesick. Once my mom sent me that quilt, things felt like “home” again, and I could feel my Grandma’s love all around me 
How do you get out of your creative ruts? 
That’s a good question! Sometimes I don’t, and nothing gets created for a while! I think that having many different mediums to work with really helps. For instance, yesterday I soldered pendants for 2 hours straight. Today I don’t even want to look at them, so I’m going to work with sewing felt. Sometimes it takes me months to finish some of my projects, but I would rather they get finished with creativity, than just pumping them out like a sweatshop!
Where would you like to be in ten years? 
In 10 years I hope to still be creating, and I hope that I’ve pushed my craft to challenge my own limits. Above all, I hope to have a happy and healthy family, and if I can share my passion for arts and crafts with them, I would be ecstatic!
Where can you be found online? (besides on Etsy) 
You can find me on Facebook here: Pinterest here: And Twitter here:
14. What would people be most surprised to learn about you? 
When I was 16, I wanted to sail around the world, and I saved my money and bought a sailboat when I was 19. I sailed for a couple of years on Puget Sound, but something always made me miss the snowy woods where the chickadees lived. I guess the mountains sang a louder song than the sea!
What did you like to do when you aren't crafting? 
When I’m not crafting, I’m thinking about crafting. No seriously, I think I have crafter’s glue flowing through my veins! (or at least in my brain!)

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