Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Feature -- Dizzy Miss Lizzy

This week's featured Etsian is Dizzy Miss Lizzy, the ceramics artist who runs Liz's Locker (when she's not busy with one of her many other pursuits!) I love the tagline of her shop, as professed by two clever felines: one says, "A variety of things," and the other says, "Ask us, We might!"

Lizzy is devoted to her four-legged friends, and she says says, "I absolutely love animals, and if I were ‘filthy-rich,’ I’d open the biggest no-kill shelter in the world."

As a cat owner myself, I chuckled at this clever plaque in her shop:

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make?

I create slip-cast ceramics from molds. I first became involved in painting ceramics when my elder daughter was in high school, and enjoyed the hobby for many years. After about 10 years, my circumstances changed, I moved, the ceramic shop at which I’d done my craft had closed, and the hobby went on the shelf. About 6 years ago, having moved to a new house with space for a kiln of my own, we had the opportunity to get involved in wholesale bisque ceramic sales to “paint-on-pottery” studios. From there, it was a short leap to deciding to create some finished wares from our bisque inventory for my Etsy shop.

2. How did you get involved with Etsy?
As an escapee from “Fee-Bay.” ;-)

3. How did you learn your craft?

My husband and I learned the pouring/molding end of the business from a couple who’d had a professional commercial studio, and had retired. It was from them that I purchased my kiln. When their bisque customers complained of loss of their source, they broached the idea of us taking over the bisque business. At this point, it is a joint venture with that couple.

4. What is involved in your creative process?

The main thing involved in the creative process with molded ceramics is in deciding the colors and finishes to be used in order to make each piece unique. Painting with stains on fired bisque is my preferred method. Using colored and specialty glazes is second, but does require an additional firing. Painting on un-fired green ware is very nerve-wracking, as 3 coats of color must be applied, and at that stage, the clay is extremely fragile—easily crushed in the hand or broken by the least bump.

The prep work is very labor-intensive, from mixing the raw clay powder into the liquid slip; pouring the molds (which can be very heavy); cleaning the green ware (product after it comes out of the mold, is dried, but not yet fired); the firing takes about 5 or 6 hours, depending in part on the size of the load in the kiln; and finally, the painting and glazing.

5. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

SF Etsy Street Team; Oakland-East Bay Team; Lab Rats Team; Pagan Team; EFA/Artists Helping Animals.

6. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

My husband and I are ‘empty-nesters’ with a family of 4 cats. Before I met my current husband: “In a previous life,” as the saying goes, I was heavily involved with community theater, both in set construction as assistant to the master carpenter and in stage-managing 3 plays. I was also involved there as a member of the comedy improvisation troupe, “Asylum.” (If you have ever seen the show, “Whose line is it, anyway?” on the comedy channel, that is the sort of thing I was doing.) It was a blast! I also produced and hosted a live cable-access TV show about hobbies for 3 years. My husband and I are currently “semi-retired,” and still waiting for the ‘retired’ part to kick in.

7. What inspires your creations?

It varies. Sometimes I come up with a whole new idea, such as my plaques with sayings; sometimes it is a seasonal thing, and I look to our bisque stock to see what I can come up with. Unfortunately, these are usually tardy, as I so abhor the commercial ‘rushing of the seasons’ that I am rarely in the mood for seasonal creations until the given season is but a few weeks away.

8. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

Directing traffic to the shop that translates to sales. I am never sure whether to blame my promotional efforts, my products, or the slack economy in general. This is a huge frustration, because I am uniformly branded “everywhere” as DzyMsLizzy, easily searchable on Google, and yet, sales are very slow.

9. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

It would be difficult to pick one favorite. All of my crafted items are there because I particularly like them. This one, however, I enjoy because it crosses so many possibilities and seasons. The little Indian caring for the newborn lamb (which I also sometimes paint as a fawn) is just such a tender scene. The specialty finish I use makes the piece look and feel like real granite.

10. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

For sellers: “Take photos as if you have no words; write descriptions as if you have no pictures.”

For Buyers: Don’t be too hasty to de-value any item, or assume poor quality because of a low price. In these tough times, everyone appreciates a good value for their money, and there is little enough profit margin on hand-crafted items: many sellers keep their prices down to try and make at least a little profit, while giving their potential customers a break and a good value. Please do not make assumptions based on price.

11. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

I would love to learn welding and silver soldering.

12. What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?

I was very happy, surprised and excited to be chosen as a ‘Feature Friday’ entry on the Lab Rats Team blog! I was also pleasantly surprised to find my challenge piece featured in not one, but two treasuries by the Pagan Team.

Just before Christmas, I had my best week/month ever, with 5 sales in one week/month!

13. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

I am a writer at heart. I write 3 blogs of my own, and guest blogs on two websites:

At my crafts blog, you can find a lot of information, and in particular, I have a series of 10 articles that are photo tutorials aimed at those who struggle with picture-taking. Those can be accessed from links in this specific post.

Talk With The Paws is a fun-and-nonsense blog, as part of the “Cat Blogosphere,” from the perspective of a cat’s view of daily life in a human household. This is written as if the cats are speaking, complete with deliberate spelling and grammatical errors attributed to a cats’ “difficulty with English.”

My third blog is a mix of societal commentary, humor (including satire and sarcasm), and at the moment, a garden journal.

My guest blog entries, which are sporadic, both deal with pets. One is written also in the vein of the cats speaking, and can be found here and is written in my own name, “Lizzy.”

The final one is written under the pen-name “TMJP” (the initials of my cats’ names). This is a (free to join) membership site. The entries deal with topics about pets and cats, in particular, but are not written in “cat-speak.”

I can be found on Face Book here or by searching “DzyMsLizzy.” (Liz’s Locker is the name of my wholesale bisque business; Just In Time is the name of our clock business.)

I do have a flickr account as well.

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