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!”
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!
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!”
I’m so excited to be featuring Andrea Watson fromAndrea 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! 🙂
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.
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! 🙂
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.”
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!”
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.)”
This past weekend was quite busy and eventful! I got to attend and volunteer at the Brews, Bites and Wines Charity Tasting Event held by The Promise Society, whose mission is to host events to help raise money and awareness for other non-profit organizations. I recently heard about this organization through a friend and had an interest to learn more about it. I’m really glad I did!
Here’s a picture of the staff and founder of the Rescuing Leftover Cuisine!
At this event, the Society raised funds for an organization called Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, whose mission is to redefine food rescue and end food waste in the U.S. Did you know that food is the #1 material sent to landfills?? Find out more how this organization helps reduce this problem and how you can contribute or donate here at their site.
Are you in for a sweet treat? I’m so excited to introduce to you Judy Lai, the creative and inspiring owner of SilkCakeslocated in LES, Manhattan and Forest Hills, Queens. Judy is the baker behindthose elaborately detailed cakes with unique flavor combinations that you may haveseen at a friend’s wedding, through my Instagram, or through wedding magazines.Recently, Judy and I had a delightful conversation over the phone (she’s incrediblysweet!) about the inspiration behind her craft and how she comes up with the different flavors. I thought why not let the baker herself tell you all about it! Then afterwards, make sure you take a trip over to either of her shop sites to get a real taste yourself of those moist cupcakes and cakes (and snap tons of pictures, for all you foodies out there!)
Are you in New York City? If yes, here’s a giveaway for you! Snowdays and I teamed up to give 5 winners a chance to each win ten dollar gift certificates to the dessert spot, Snowdays on 10th Street! Read below to find out how to enter and check out the the interview with store owner, Tony Quach here!
To enter, you will need a Facebook or Instagram account.
1) Follow @Snowdays and @lilspirations.
2) Like and Comment through the app on this photo tagging 3 friends.
3) For a bonus extra entry repost this image with #lilspirationsgiveaway!
Entering through Facebook:
1) Follow Snowdays Facebook page and lilspirations page here.
2) Like the photo on my Facebook page and share the post with your friends!
3) Tag @lilspirations for your entry to be logged
Good luck, and thanks for entering!
Winner must follow each step in either methods to qualify. Giveaway runs through midnight est on Saturday, 3/14/15. Winners will be contacted through direct message and prizes will be mailed. This giveaway is not sponsored or endorsed by Instagram or Facebook.