This week's featured SF Etsy member is Jesse, the creative force behind Tir na nOg Faery adoptions. Her Faery creations are gorgeous works of art -- and they get a big squeal of approval from my 5 year old daughter, who was looking over my shoulder as I explored Jesse's shop. Every doll received approving "Oohs!" and "Aahs!" Clearly, Jesse knows her target audience! I think my daughter likes this Pixie Mermaid best:
Enjoy the interview!
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?
At the moment, I have my shop loaded to the gills with what I call 'pipe cleaner pixies'. For anyone familiar with the Waldorf schools, the style is based off of their 'Flower Fairy' dolls. When I was smaller, my Mum bought a Flower Fairy tutorial sheet from a Waldorf festival and made a couple for me, which have followed me from home to home ever since. I actually started making dolls of my own rather spur of the moment. I was at the Faerieworlds Festival in Eugene Oregon five years ago and decided that my costume was missing something. So, I got out the old instruction sheet for the flower fairies and went to work. After the festival, I realized that I really enjoyed creating these little dolls and as the months went by, I started to play more and more with their design. It wasn't until my sophomore year in college that I actually started selling my dolls. There was one project in particular where we were asked to craft a book. I chose to illustrate mine by posing some of my faeries and photographing them. My professor saw some of the pictures and suggested that I try vending them at the Denver Waldorf's Festival of Light. The entry fee was within my budget and I figured "sure. Why not?" The festival was a gigantic success for me and opened my eyes to a new possibility; selling my dolls online. I have been a vendor at this festival for the past four years. I even earned a nickname within the community, which I use as my online handle ("The Faery Lady")
As for my creative process, its all rather fluid. I start by making the 'yarn skeleton' and once that's done, I hold it up against all my fabrics and flowers to see which feels the best for that particular doll. I usually just go where the inspiration takes me, which is how the mermaid dolls came into being. I was looking at my betta fish one evening when all of a sudden a thought popped in. I wonder how I would make a mermaid doll...
Now that I've figured that one out, the next thought bubble to tackle is dragons.
2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?
SFetsy, Dollmakers, Dollmakers of Etsy, Etsy Success, FAE, and Sonoma County Etsy
3. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.
Within the last couple of months, I've picked up face painting. I had always been really interested in the art form, thanks to the painters at Disneyland, but it had never occurred to me that I could do it too. After pouring over a bunch of face painting tutorials on youtube, I finally decided to just go for it. It's been one of the best late night choices I've ever made! I'm really excited about doing some painting for Valentine's day, especially since I just bought a few new pigments....one of which is a fantastic copper color and a rainbow cake called 'Fairy Floss'.
I'm also expanding into cut paper illustration. It has this lovely folk art feel to it, which I love and the medium is a bit more forgiving than others (like pencils or oil paint). There's this artist named Brittany Lee who has done some beautiful, beautiful pieces with cut paper and acrylic paint. Every time I see her work, I get the same " I wonder how I could do that" bee in my bonnet that I get with my dolls. It's brilliant.
As for other interesting facts, I have green/purple/blue and brown hair, I have a cat with six toes on her front two paws named Nimuae (Nim-oo-ay), I love sculpting creatures out of polymer clay, I'm obsessed with empty notebooks, and Art Nouveau is my favorite artistic style.
4. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?
My biggest challenge has to do with pricing my work. I'm learning to take my work and myself seriously, but there's still that little tickle in the back of my mind that says I shouldn't charge a lot of money because no one will buy from me if I do. As of late, I'm beginning to see what a destructive belief that is and how it is my responsibility as an artist to educate others on the value of any piece of art. One of the things that never really sunk into my brain when I was at art college was that not many people can do what we artists do. We provide a service and that service has a definite value. It takes a good amount of soul searching and research to find a value that is both fair and reasonable to you and your customers, but it is very much worth your while to do it. Life lesson learned.
5. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?
Rori, my little acorn faery, would have to be one of my favorites. I was a little sad to ship her to her new home. One of my favored yarns to use for hair is that 'ginger' color. That, coupled with the green dress and acorn hat just makes me so giddy when I look at pictures of her.
6. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy?
This one's a toughie because there are so many wonderful items out there that I would be ecstatic to have as part of my home decor or personal wardrobe. If I were to pick just one though, I'd have to go with....one of these or...quite possibly this.
7. If you had to live out the rest of your life as a famous fictional character, who would you be and why?
Bilbo Baggins! The Hobbit was the first novel I read by myself as a child, so Mr. Baggins holds a very special place in my heart. He goes on grand adventures, writes books, smokes one awesome looking pipe, and lives in a hobbit hole. Sounds like a perfect life to me...especially if there's a hobbit hole involved. I promise you, one day I will have one for my very own.
8. Which one song describes your life the best? Why?
Again we turn to The Hobbit to answer this one, except this time it's the animated feature film instead of the book. The Greatest Adventure by Glenn Yarbrough sums up my life and how I aspire to be remarkably well. The whole song is basically talking about how you are in complete control of your life and how it plays out. If you want to live your ideal life, you have to get out there and just do it, rather than sitting on your hands dreaming about doing it.
9. If money were no object for just one day, what would you do?
Let's see. If money were no object and I could do anything I wanted...I'd get up at midnight, buy myself a proper art studio loaded with everything I could ever hope to play with before six am and then I'd go to Ireland for a long visit.
10. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
I have a twitter, blog, and deviantart, which can be found at:
If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Katy or Steph about joining SFEtsy!