Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Feature -- Science Kitty

This week's featured Etsy artist is Science Kitty. With a name like that, of course I was immediately disposed to love this shop. After all, I was a biotech major when I started college -- and I spent much of elementary school convinced I would have a vanity plate of JENCAT put on my first car in the far-off time when I would one day be able to drive....

I found myself smiling and reminded of that time even more vividly when I discovered the charming Tribute to Analog section of the shop. You see, I remember when the TV knob actually looked like this! (How clever to turn it into a pin!)

I spent several moments reminiscing about long-ago mornings spent watching the test pattern while I waited for Hong Kong Phooey to come on ... and then I continued browsing this wonderful shop. It's full of whimsy and unique treasures. Enjoy the interview, and spend some time browsing yourself!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I like to combine unusual or surprising materials, such as salvaged laboratory equipment, recycled electronic components, repurposed watch parts, and other mechanical gadgets with more conventional jewelry components and textile materials to create fun and unique jewelry and other wearable creations. I hope my work reveals the unexpected beauty of ordinary objects, or at least makes you smile.

I strive to create unique things and while other Etsians inspire me all the time, I try to never copy the work others (no matter how cool their ideas :-). I enjoy learning new skills and have tried my hand at metal working, glass blowing, knitting, sewing, beading, and more recently prospecting, rock polishing, carving and laser cutting. I hope to one day have the space to build my own pottery studio.

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

SF Etsy and MSOE (The Mad Scientists of Etsy)

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

Since I was very young I have had a passion for observing and understanding nature and designing and building things. I have always enjoyed making jewelry and other wearable art, learning new techniques and collecting art supplies and parts of old things for my creations. When I was a teenager I thought I would one day become a professional artist and was very fortunate to have the opportunity to take weekend art classes at CMU. However I realized that what I considered amazing art was not considered ‘art’ by many of my classmates and teachers and rather was considered fine craftsmanship. I learned that much art is intended to increase awareness or invoke an emotional response rather than just being beautiful, unique or well made. I respect and admire this but I eventually realized that engineering may be a better fit for my personality and skills.

This ultimately led me to a career in molecular biology where I help other researchers understand the machinery of life by developing new experimental methods and designing equipment to carryout these new experiments. I find that the best designs while taking a lot of thought to create end up being elegantly simple. While I enjoy my career, the managerial and administrative aspects can get emotionally exhausting. My Etsy shop is my oasis. Fabricating wearable creations for my customers is a fun and reviving change of pace. I have found the kind spirit and appreciation of my customers very gratifying.

4. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I learned about Etsy when attending the Bay Area Maker Faire. It was extremely exciting to meet so many hands-on extremely creative people. Many of the artists exhibiting there had ‘Etsy’ shops. I was not sure what Etsy was but after the faire I checked out the website and loved it.

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

Taking good photos - Sometimes if I use a flash the colors look too washed out and without the flash too dark. For larger pieces it is a challenge to show sufficient detail and also a good overview of the piece.

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

I really like my micro-mechanical butterfly earrings and necklaces. While they looked really cool, at first I had trouble ensuring all the small parts were sturdy enough to survive shipping and prolonged wear. I asked around for advice and learned about an amazing clear acrylic coating. I now always use this. It is virtually invisible and I have not had durability issues anymore. I have worn my butterfly necklace nearly everyday for over a year. (Thanks MH for the great advice!)

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

I think it is important to develop your own unique style. Prompt shipping is also greatly appreciated by customers.

8. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy?

It is so difficult to choose just one…

I have wanted these train hoop earrings by dmdmetal for a long time:

And this red wine resveratrol molecule necklace by fellow sfetsy member, molecular muse:

9. What crafting skill do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

Metal Clay! - I am saving my Etsy store profits to buy a furnace for this purpose and am excited to incorporate the stones I have collected and polished into silver.

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

I have been touched by the kindness of my customers. The email and feedback they have sent me has been very gratifying. It really feels good to know your work has made somebody else happy. I was happily surprised when I found my Micro-mechanical butterfly earrings mentioned on blogs (Thanks Georgia of NerdSalad for starting this trend!) and was really excited when an item in my shop was featured in the Etsy blog and with the orders that followed.

Buy Handmade

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!


Christine said...

I love the Science Kitty jewelry- the clever, witty pieces are a great because I can wear them to work or for fun.

Alicia Dabney said...

Lovely work, Science Kitty! It was fun to read your interview answers. :)

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