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Om Shanti Handcrafts

Posted by Ivonnardona on 08/05/2008

I’m not the best with keeping up with my blog and posting these interviews but I had a few minutes and decided that I would go ahead and get one in. Here is an interview from a fellow Coloradoan from Mile High Etsy Street Team. Kate is from Colorado, which is where I live and I really enjoyed reading her interview. I really enjoyed the quote from a friend on question #2 and she makes some really great points for question #9. I know you will enjoy her writing skills!

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m a seeker, a writer, an herbalist and a maker. I’m owned by three cats and two rats. Moved here to Colorado a few years ago and am loving every minute of it! I started Om Shanti Handcrafts as a way to make things, perhaps make a little money, and hopefully escape my truly awful job.

2. Tell me a bit about your background and how long you have been an artist/crafter.

Oddly enough, I was always a science geek growing up — still am; I bring my rock hammer and lens along on hikes to look at the rocks.

Never thought of myself having any creativity and still feel a little weird about the idea that I do. I can do no better than to quote a

friend:

I was positive that I was not creative/could not make art for most of my life. Nobody ever told me that if I practiced, I’d get better.

Nobody ever told me that just because my art didn’t look like “fine art” that I saw in museums, it was okay. Nobody ever told me that everyone is creative and has their own unique vision to share with the world.

It never occurred to me to make things until fairly recently. Since then, though, it’s like a whole new world has exploded in my mind (and all over my apartment).

3. What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?

I’m sure I made things when I was a kid — nearly everyone does — but the first thing I _remember_ making by hand was a piece of medieval-style clothing for a friend. We were camping at the time, so no sewing machine, and he needed some help getting it done — I found I had a talent with the needle and that I preferred making it by hand to using a machine. That was about it for a long while, though.

4. What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?

My jewelry ideas come from songs — mostly by Dar Williams or the Indigo Girls so far though there are a few outliers. One was inspired by a song in a Star Trek book, of all things (How Much for Just the Planet which I highly recommend). Sometimes it’s as obvious as a color mentioned in the lyrics, sometimes it’s a lot more subtle than that.

My herbals are different. Anything medicinal especially is more influenced by what herbs have what effect than by what smells nice together, though every once in a while I’ll have a ‘feel’ that a particular herb should go in. Usually when I do the research I find out that I was right and sometimes for a totally unanticipated reason.

I do make an attempt, in my bath salts and teas, to balance scents with what does what. In my Long Day Working salts, for example, every ingredient is beneficial for tired and strained muscles in one way or another, but they also just smell good together. My lip balms, on the other hand, leave the beneficial effects to the olive oil and beeswax and just unashamedly smell good.

5. What are your favorite materials?

In jewelry, lapis lazuli, hands down. I have to make an effort not to use it in every piece. It’s my absolute favorite stone. I also like the silver wire I make my clasps out of; I plan to start using it for more decorative things in my jewelry as well.

For the herbal stuff, lavender has got to be near the top. I thought I didn’t like lavender for years — I finally realized that it was the awful synthetic stuff I didn’t like, not the real thing. The real thing has a sharpness to it that the lavender fragrance oils just can’t match.

A recent favorite is spearmint. I asked a friend at work what kind of lip balm she’s always wanted and could never find; she replied that peppermint’s easy but why doesn’t anyone make spearmint? I stopped on the way home to pick up a bag from the local herb shop and spent the rest of the ride home with my nose practically in it, it smelled so good!

6. What is your favorite color? What colors are you drawn to?

Lapis blue, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. And jewel tones in general — those deep, rich colours.

7. If someone were looking to take up a craft, what advice would you give them?

Don’t hesitate, don’t second-guess yourself, just _do_ it, see how it comes out. And when your first try is awful, don’t despair. Try it again and again — if it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble, would it? And you _will_ get better. Just keep at it.

8. What is your area of interest in crafting? What do you specialize in?

Beaded jewelry, and herbal bath and body stuff.

9. What would be your top 5 tips for a beginner?

5) Do not bring credit cards to the bead show. Ask me how I know this.

4) Olive oil is slippery.

3) Cats and loose beads combine poorly. (It’s kinda funny, though.)

2) Follow the instructions on the bottle of lye. I don’t care how much you hate safety goggles, wear em.

1) It’s clichéd, but: Just Do It.

10. What would be your top 5 items of essential equipment?

5) A good glass measuring cup.

4) A wide variety of pliers.

3) Funnels. It’s hard to have enough.

2) You can use hardware organizers for beads too.

1) My brain.

11. Can you recommend a technique or ‘tips’ book ideal for a beginner?

I’m ashamed to say I don’t own a single jewelry book, not even one.

For herbal stuff, Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal is absolutely the best. It’s what got me started, and I still refer to it regularly.

12. Can you recommend any brands to look out for, when buying equipment or kit?

I get my beads in so many places it’s hard to give an answer there.

That said, if you can find a nearby bead show the variety and prices both will be much, much better than what you can get elsewhere.

Camden-Grey is a lovely source for essential oils and other supplies; I’ve done quite a bit of business with them. Majestic Mountain Sage has some fine things as well.

13. Do you sell your work, or is it purely for pleasure?

I sell it — if I didn’t, I could never wear all the jewelry nor use all the bath salts, and I think my mother is already getting sick of beaded jewelry for every gift-giving occasion. 🙂

I still get a lot of pleasure out of making it all, though. When I don’t, that’s time to stop.

14. What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

Om Shanti Handcrafts at http://omshanti.etsy.com .

You can also find me at the Creative Cafe Showrooms at

http://www.creativecafesalesrooms.com/storecatalog.asp?userid=31 .

I also have a blog at http://omshantihandcrafts.wordpress.com .

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