Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I have worked with children my whole life. I have MEd in Education with a Waldorf Certificate. I helped to found a Waldorf school in my community 15 years ago. Waldorf is an educational philosophy that integrates the fine and practical arts into academics. I have retired from teaching and I am so happy to be spending my days in arts and crafting. I have been a crafter since childhood-my grandmother taught me to knit, my mother, to sew. I describe myself as a needle and mixed media artist as that encompasses a broad range of my projects: Peg dolls, knitted goddesses, prayer flags, garden art shingles, photography and so on.
Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?
Family started me on a creative path and my Waldorf teaching career inspired me further. Painting, sculpting, music, movement and many types of handwork were included in my teacher training and my classroom teaching. I think having a creative outlet is essential to a happy, fully developed human being.
Where do you get your inspiration from when you design and create?
First of all, from nature. I take regular walks and trips to wild or natural areas. I live close to the ocean, forests and mountains and my state is rich in natural beauty. Water, especially rejuvenates and refreshes me. I love to visit rivers and streams. You need to fill the well to draw from it, so to speak.
Secondly, from a regular meditative practice that allows me to enter stillness and access a well of ideas that I believe everyone has. As Pablo Picasso says “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
I work with natural materials (100 % wool felt, batting, cotton fibres, floss, wood, glass beads, etc) and they provide a rich sensory experience that inspires.
What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
Creative, skilled, warm and caring, thoughtful, slow-meaning I take my time.
How did you know when you found your passion for Art & Craft?
Again I have to go back to my Waldorf teacher training in my Masters Program at Antioch New England Graduate School and the exposure to a broad range of arts. It stirred my soul and nurtured something deep in me. Everyone partook in artistic activities, not just so called artists. Since 1997 I have spent each and every day in some kind of creative activity whether singing, painting or crafting.
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
I worked with children in institutions for developmentally disabled/mentally ill children when I left college. I learned compassion and patience! Since then I have been a preschool and elementary teacher. Working with young children keeps one young at heart, in touch with joy, freshness, openness. They are not afraid to try new things and they are not stymied by labels yet. So children are a great inspiration for imagination and creativity.
Now that I have left the classroom I have sought to bring in income from my handwork. This is a work in process.
Describe your day in your studio space?
I share a studio space with our media room (TV and computer) in our house but it is a very large room with lots of windows. It is cluttered and has piles of stuff as well as shelves for storage. It has cosy chairs and a large table for bigger projects. I usually work on the computer for awhile first thing in the morning: Email, blogging, social networking, photo processing, etc. I will get orders ready for shipping and then go out to the PO, do errands and go for my daily walk in a natural setting. I always take photos on these walks. When I come back home I work on ideas for future projects either in a notebook or daydreaming. I have way more ideas than I have had the chance to manifest yet. I spend the rest of the day sewing whatever my latest project is for my Etsy shop.
As an Artist, what is your biggest frustration?
Income is erratic!
Tell us about how you prioritise your work.
Orders must be filled in a timely manner so they take priority. Then I work on new designs that are tied to a holiday or season that is coming up. Finally, I will work on whatever comes to me serendipitously. For example, 2 years ago I made a long term study of the divine feminine. I read a number of books and viewed artistic renderings of goddesses from all over the world. Then I made a number of garden shingles and knitted figures that were goddess inspired.
Mixed Media Heart, Birthday Brooch, One of a Kind, Waldorf Brooch
Tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
After reading The Artist Way by Julia Cameron I made the commitment to do an artist date every week. “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy.” (Read more here: http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/artists-dates/). For these dates I visited all the art galleries and museums in my area. But mostly I connect online with others; I read blogs, visit online galleries, view Etsy shops, etc. I participate in a number of weekly blog hops which is a good way to “virtually” meet others. On occasion I get together with others to craft.
What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?
Cultivate patience, organization and develop a knowledge of the business side of art. It is not enough to make wonderful art, it needs to be seen and that involves an online presence or a brick and mortar presence and promotion. Luckily there are many opportunities (books and online) to research creating a website, blog, social networking presence, SEO, etc.
What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
Travel! I have been to France, England, Canada and many places in the USA. I’d like to see more of our beautiful planet
What is your proudest moment so far?
Personally, it is seeing the fine young woman my daughter has grown to be. Professionally, helping to start a school where the arts are integrated into the curriculum was a high point.
In thinking f my current work, it is a pleasure each and every time someone enthusiastically comments on my work.
Who do you most want to meet and why?
Hmmm. I would be a time traveller and meet people who were creative or influential or overcame obstacles: Leonardo Da Vinci or Elizabeth I of England or Helen Keller-they are so interesting.
In present day I admire Salley Mavor of Wee Folk Studio. Her work is beautiful and commercially successful. Using natural fibres she has illustrated a number of children’s books creating 3 dimensional scenes with wonderful embroidery. She lives about 3 hours from me so I probably could meet her someday.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
You must love yourself in order to give love.
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
I would recommend the book I mentioned earlier, The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. Originally she wrote the book for artists who have a creative block. But I think it is a great self-care book for all those who want to activate imagination, inspiration and intuition in their lives.
I always have a number of books on my nightstand. For fiction, currently I am rereading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien and the 5th book of the Game of Thrones series by George RR Martin. For nonfiction I have been reading a variety of books on shamanism like The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. I always check the library for the new arts or crafting books like Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman. Crocheting has come a long way from the granny squares day!
Where do we find you and your products? (list stores & links, websites )
My Etsy shop, Bridgit’s Bell: http://etsy.com/shop/bridgitsbell
My Blog, also Bridgit’s Bell: http://bridgitsbell.blogger.com
My Pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/karen_traversy
My Facebook page, also Bridgit’s Bell: http://facebook.com/bridgitsbell
My Twitter account: http://twitter.com/#/traveller9851
My Flickr account: www.flickr.com/photos/bridgitsbell