Happy Friday, folks!
Today's interview is with Mindful Presents. Creating gifts from the heart that are meaningful and special to each recipient, the creator, Charlene, puts her soul into her work. Each of her creations are made one of a kind with a story to go along, and the promise of a happy home. If you're looking for a unique birthday gift, her crowns and hand painted silk scarfs are ornate and precious. Enjoy Charlene's stories of uplifting inspiration and journeys around the world.
1. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?
SF ETSY of course, WOE on ETSY, ETSY SUCCESS, Leaders in Handmade, Homespun Society, Promoting ETSY Sellers, Etsy Sellers Unite, The Wedding Shop
2. 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 make a variety of things:
CROWNING GLORIES: These are lovely whimsical fantasy creations and adornments for your head. I had been out of the creative process for a while, due to work and school and raising a family, and quite literally had a ‘break’. I broke my ankle, and decided to get back into the creative groove by doing one beautiful thing a day. I started making crowns. The goal and process of doing this opened up the channels of creativity that had been relatively dormant and inspired me to go back to the creative things I love to do.
I am a nurse in my ‘other’ life, and I see so much disability. I was inspired to make these by a patient who requested one. People are so physically disabled, and weak, and sometimes that is all one sees. I made these as a way to have people look past the disability at the that is on the inside be on the outside as well, and help the patient’s overcome their sense of weakness by living their dreams.
Bear Souls: There is nothing like having a bear to bare your soul to. I started making these many years ago when my children were little. All my bears are unique and different depending on how I sculpt their faces.
Bottled Souls: I had lost so many socks, and had a plethora of single socks whose mates had gone to sock heaven. So I decided to make these whimsical dolls out of socks, and empty bottles, using the patterns in the sock to form the faces. They have turned out to be fun and colorful. For adults only though.
Silk Dreams: I call these meditations on silk, I paint on silk, and make silk scarves, prayer shawls, baby blankets and wall hangings.
3. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.
I have had an eclectic life; I was born, and spent my first 15 years in South Africa, when it was still under Apartheid. I have lived in Belgium, Berlin, London and California. Being creative for me is like needing air to breathe. I have always loved to create, and am very passionate about everything I do.
I have worked as a costume designer, make up artist, secretary, massage therapist, a hospice nurse, and most recently a Registered Nurse in Critical care where I have worked for 14 years. I graduated at 51 with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Through all of this, I have been married for 24 years to my husband Alan, who is my rock. We have two beautiful children who are 23 and 21 who are in College and thriving, as well as a family of furry creatures (2 Border collies Jake and Gypsy, and a cat) who make my life complete.
4. What inspires your creations?
People and nature. The colors of my youth, the exotic nature of Africa where I was born. The elegance of Europe where I was raised.The desire to show your inner beauty on the outside. Creating freedom of expression. Emotions of the moment. I often include poetry and sayings in my work. Positive affirmations, so that when people wear the item, they are creating a feeling of goodwill for themselves. I once made a scarf for my Microbiology teacher with all the pictures of bacteria on it. It was very creative. She wore it during our final exam. Little did everyone know, that the answers to the questions were right in front of them. My first prayer shawls were painted for my children with symbols of their characters and my hopes for their happiness. When babies are born, I will make special silk blankets with inspirational messages embroidered into them. Sometimes their astrological sign and symbols related to their birth.
As a Registered Nurse, I see a lot of pain and suffering, and people who feel so down about life. One patient wore one of my crowns to the OR and not only did she feel radiant, everyone around her smiled as well.
I am a firm believer in letting your light shine, not shrinking so others won’t feel small. My bears were inspired by an old artist friend many years ago who gave me a handmade bear. I really got the meaning of the incredible gift of giving and receiving a bear.
5. How did you get involved with Etsy?
After breaking my ankle, I decided to do something creative every day, and made over 70 crowns in 6 weeks. One of my patients asked to see them, so I brought a few in for her after I returned to work. She wore one to her surgery, and looked so radiant wearing it. She suggested I open an Etsy store, so I did in July of this year, and I finally got accepted into SF Etsy some time in October. It has been a whirlwind of activity since July.
6. What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?
Being Validated. Being featured on TOP SHOPS OF ETSY. Being accepted into SF Etsy. It was such an honor. People telling me I am a ‘talented artist’. I never thought of myself this way before… a whole new world is opening up for me. The other big success is all the people I seem to have met online. The people who have validated me when I was unsure of myself. All the good positive energy. I had one scam email, but other than that, I believe in the goodness of the Etsy philosophy, and the people, and LOVE that I am in touch with so many artists world-wide.
I was too late for many shows, but I was selected for the Celebration of Craftswomen show on Dec 1 and 2 of this year, and even got my picture taken for Marin Magazine. My photo is on their Facebook page. I am meeting many wonderful people.
7. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?
My favorite silk item is the mermaid quilt. I love her. I love the color and texture. I made her with my lovely daughter in mind. My beautiful daughter has very curly hair, and looks like a mermaid. I love running my hands over her embroidered hair, feeling the softness of the silk, and the detailed embroidery of her hair. The colors are soothing. I love animals, and the dolphin is so sweet. It can be used as a blanket, a wall hanging or whatever you want it to be. She is for sale, for $550, but I don’t really want to part with her.
8. If money were no object for just one day, what would you do?
Well for one day I couldn’t really go anywhere, If it was a week, I would travel to India, and work with orphans there. But for one day. I would open up a giant studio in San Francisco, filled with all sorts of art materials, I would invite all the artists in the tenderloin to come in and paint. I would serve them lunch, have live music. We would wash and clean them, give them clothes to wear, and any fantasy outfits imaginable. They could then create to their hearts’ desire. At the end of the day I would have all the work displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, and their work could be put up for sale and they would get the money.
9. Give us some insight on how you personally, or your shop, gives back to your community.
I feel that I give to my community every day in the work that I do as a nurse. My family and I volunteer at Glide Memorial Church every Thanksgiving and Christmas and whenever we can. I will be there for the Toy Drive. I have volunteered as an RN at Vincent’s dining room in San Rafael.- held blood pressure clinics there. I would love for a number of us to get together and make scarves for cancer patients. I am looking forward to participating in some more events in Marin for the needy through Etsy.
A peek inside the workspace of Mindful Presents
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