Featured Spotlight: Christina Shirley

I really admire people who are self-taught in a skill. It takes a lot of patience, time, and motivation to learn something on one’s own without needing to be pushed or taught. Some people just naturally do it whereas I feel the need to be taught or given a push first before going off on my own – I think they call me lazy… sometimes.

But that’s not even close to describing Christina Shirley from the Stella Blue Gallery.  She’s a 34-year-old artist and mommy with a beautiful 7 year old girl and a supporting husband.  She is self-taught all around!  “Everything I have done I have taught myself.  From the bare bones of cutting and shaping wire for intricate earrings.  Firing my first torch to melt glass, (something I am on hiatus from but hope to pick back up in the near future-glass shards don’t mix well with a 7 year old and a home studio).  All the way to purchasing my first jewelers saw, sterling silver sheet and solder so I could create my first ring.”  She explains her journey further, “Each endeavor was embarked with my fingers crossed, hair pulled way back (can’t take your chances with fire) all in hopes that it would work.  Thank God it did!”

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Featured Spotlight: Michelle Luu

Bringing you a microbiologist and self-taught potter all the way from California, here is my last featured spotlight of this week’s handmade and nature-inspired Meet the Makers series!  Meet Michelle Luu all the way from California. We did our interview over the Web and it was a delight to know the background behind what and where she fulfills her creative interests.  Read all about her below!

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Michelle and I am the maker behind Michelle Luu Pottery. I am a full time Microbiologist who is a self taught potter. I create a variety of one-of-a-kind pieces for the home.  My hope is that these pieces will become part of your daily routines and rituals–from Sunday morning breakfasts to family and friend get togethers. I believe in the art of handmade elements so all my pieces are wheel thrown or hand built. Each piece I make is crafted with care and love for the process in and of itself as well as the final product it will become. Because each piece is handmade there is always an element of imperfection or uniqueness and I believe that there is a certain beauty derived from these so-called imperfections.  I want to make things that are used every day. When I’m not making pottery, I love to experiment with cooking and playing rock songs on my ukulele. I have a weakness for pretty flowers, sunsets, and frenchies. I’m an optimist, dreamer, and I truly believe in happily ever after!

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Featured Spotlight: Kristen Juen

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Do you ever feel like you want to own everything inside of a catalog or a store such as Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, or West Elm? (Sometimes I do!) It’s one thing to own beautiful things for the home from these stores, but it’s a whole other level when it’s homemade and crafted by local artists such as Kristen Juen from www.saksajuen.com. She creates organic modern, hand-built ceramics for unique spaces and focuses on creating forms that are intentionally handmade, not like everything else.  With all that she makes, she has one strong desire: “I hope my designs spark a connection with nature for modern spaces!”

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Featured Spotlight: Andrea Watson

I’m so excited to be featuring Andrea Watson from Andrea Watson Designs today! It was a pleasure to chat with her through email back and forth, sharing short snippets and stories while collaborating on a 72 hour giveaway (Check our Instagrams @awatsondesigns and @lilspirations to enter for a chance to win 9 prizes! Ends June 24th). She’s such a joy to talk to, and you’ll get what I mean when you read my interview with her!  🙂

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an Ohio original, but always knew I belonged on the coast. My husband and I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina in 2010 and have been loving life in this beautiful place ever since. I’m a sucker for palm trees, blue skies, and warm weather 🙂 I’ve been building my little business since 2012 and have really started to eat-sleep-breathe the life of a small business owner. I spend countless hours on my jewelry business every week, but I’ve loved watching it grow organically and couldn’t be happier with where I’m at now. 2015 has been a huge year for me and I’m excited to keep growing and expanding my brand.

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Featured Spotlight: Kristine Brookshire

So glad to know everyone loves the featured spotlight series!  There are a couple of more makers to share with you this week across the U.S.! It has been really fun learning about everyone, what they do, and how they find inspiration (not to mention they are all incredibly sweet.)

Today, let’s meet Kristine Brookshire from southern California! 🙂

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Kristine has always loved art. “My earliest childhood memories are centered around drawing and painting. I studied art all throughout school, even majoring in studio art in college for my BFA. I put off pursuing an art career after college to support my husband through law school and then I got busy having babies. Now I’m a busy stay at home mom of a preschooler and toddler twins but my passion for art is still there. I sneak in painting whenever I can – usually nap times, and after the kids go to bed.”  For years, she took on portrait commissions by word of mouth but recently joined Etsy and Instagram to gain exposure and connect with the customers.I didn’t realize how incredibly inspiring it would be to connect with other artists and makers. I’m blown away by the talent that is out there and the friendships that I’ve made.”

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Featured Spotlight: Sarah Simon

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When it comes to creating art or capturing photographs, Sarah Simon from Seattle knows how to do it well.  I mean, really well.  Known as @TheMintGardener on Etsy and Instagram, I got a chance to collaborate with her on an upcoming giveaway and learn about who she is and the work that she does. Although Sarah started her professional life in Economics and Human Resources, her support from her husband and her passion for creating with her hands, won.  “I began an Etsy and Instagram site devoted to my art and the many inspirations of beauty that catch my eye everyday.”

Her photos on Instagram are really unique. I wondered what she looked for when shooting those pictures so I went ahead and asked her.   Her answer?  Light.  “Light is the most captivating factor for me- it colors our world differently from moment to moment and it creates moods and dictates the flow of our days.  Certain lighting (my favorite is dawn and dusk, the ‘afterlight’) is the most inspiring to me. With a little (or a lot of) coffee and the right lighting – who knows what may be accomplished!”  

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Featured spotlight: Samantha Leung

So you’ve met Tony Quach who knows how to shave some good ice and blend it well with never-ending toppings, and you’ve met Judy Lai who makes beautiful Asian-flavor inspired cakes.  There’s no better inspiration than to hear from the owners themselves!  So this week, let’s meet more awesome people. They have a remarkable talent for art and nature and I’m really excited to share their work with you!

Considering how I was never able to keep a plant alive for long, I recently gained an interest in plants after working in the garden with my students. I decided that when I’ve made room in my apartment one day, I would get some, and there’s no place I would rather get my first air plant than from the Etsy shop, Handmade Sam*Made.  

Samantha Leung, also the writer and creator behind www.handmadesammade.com, creates beautiful Himmeli ornaments and pairs them perfectly with different types of air plants.  She has had an interest in plants her entire life.  “When I was really young, as young as I can remember – around 2-3, I remember spending entire weekends at the Chicago Botanical Gardens with my Mom. We would get there as early as we could, and we would just walk around and read all of the little placards over and over until they would close up for the day. My favorite rooms were always the ones that resembled the rainforest. That shock of warmth and humidity that would envelop you as soon as you walked in, and the scent of the plants and flowers surrounding you. I can actually picture it right now. My mom has always had a green thumb. She is always in the midst of propagating plants, repotting and giving them away to friends. She has the uncanny ability to bring back any plant from the brink, and she’s currently growing a lemon tree in her condo that she started from a lemon that she got from a local grocery store! (Mariano’s for anyone from Chicago.)

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Bird Study in Second Grade!

I’m extremely excited for the summer.  School is out and that means… lots of blogging and adventure time! It has been one incredible school year – the sweetest, most empathetic students I have had and we are closing 2nd grade with some fun, fun projects. As part of our social studies integrated unit, we study birds of New York City. It’s amazing how children are fascinated with animals, in particular birds – even pigeons. Through the unit, there was a lot of inquiry based project work. They questioned, they answered, they wondered, they reflected. The beauty of a study like this is that the learning never stops and neither does the engagement. With tons of field experiences, guest teachers, readings, and academic projects, the children continuously collaborated and built strong relationships with one another.  The motivation behind each of their work and drive to succeed was astounding!  So here are a few pieces of work that I took pictures of and thought I’d share with you!  (note: none of these were edited or completed yet! I just snapped as I went along.)

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Future Artists and Fashion Designers!

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 On Monday, June 8th, 2015 from 6-8 pm, P.S. 126 and the Manhattan Academy of Technology , a pre-K to 8th grade school will be having an Art & Fashion Show along with a mini auction.  The art teachers, Ms. Nieves and Ms. Schorr, and students have been preparing for this event for many months, and it is incredible to see the community hard at work!

In art, students have been learning various art techniques and styles throughout the year, experimenting and excelling with different mediums. If you see the art live in person, you’ll be amazed at the details and effort put into every handcrafted piece, from 4 to 15 year olds!  I took some time to catch a sneak preview and thought I would share some with you – but to find out who the artists and designers are, you’ll just have to attend the event! 🙂 

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