For Throw-Back Thursday, here's an interview that I gave for a blog spotlight several years ago, way back in 2011. I love giving interviews because the questions make me think about my work in a new way. If the interview sounds familiar, it is because I have found most of my marketing material from going back and reading old interviews and plucking out what I have said to describe my work for press releases, artist statements and on my Etsy About page. If you ever have writer's block about yourself, do an interview!
I stumbled upon Martha`s Etsy shop about a week ago it`s called Pulp Art. She has the most beautiful hand made Paper art. Every thing is cute and corky but I must say the seed bombs and plantable paper are fantastic! very earthy and eco-friendly but still manages to keep a hip fun vibe wile selecting attractive colors that makes me want to say YES PLEASE! Wile no further ado your indie spotlight artist.
1. What is your name, where are you from and what do you do?
I am Martha of PulpArt.Etsy.com I live in upstate New York, and I am a handmade paper artist.
2. Tell us a little more about yourself?
I have held many jobs in many different fields but I have always had a creative hobby on the side, which means I also have every expensive piece of specialized equipment: a glass grinder for stained glass, a table top loom for weaving, all kinds of pliers for making jewelry, a gocco printer, bookbinding cloth, a sewing machine … But my favorite creative outlet through it all has been paper-making. Sometimes you’ll see another hobby creep into my paper — some yarn remnants from a knitting project will make it into my paper or I will print on my cards using my gocco machine, but my handmade paper is always the focus.
3. How did you acquire your craft/art?
My journey with paper started a long time ago. I have always been a writer, journaling in my diary every day growing up. I realized that I loved not just the writing but the feel of pen to paper, turning the thick pages inside of a handmade journal, enjoying the sound of the crinkle of each crisp sheet. I became a newspaper editor in my 20s and merged my love of paper with a fascination with words – not just their meanings but how they look on the page. I learned the value of white space in a page layout.
When I was engaged to be married, I took a class in papermaking and I was hooked. Words, paper, torn up and combined with water to make a new crisp sheet of paper … it thrilled me. I made all of my own wedding invitations from my handmade paper back in 1994 and have been making paper by hand ever since.
4. What inspires you?
I am inspired by artwork that I can’t make and would never think to make. I recently saw a feature on an artist who carved the tips of pencils into amazing miniature sculptures. It totally energized and excited me, even if it is something I will never attempt.
5. What is your creative process?
I am lucky to have relationships with people who work with a lot of paper and give me my choice of beautiful fibers from their recycling bins. It’s the wonderful colors of the scraps of paper that inspire me and lead my creative process. I have found jewel green and cobalt blue papers that inspired me to make handmade paper circles that look like the earth. I made a very thick piece of red handmade paper that I accidentally left next to an empty weaving cone. When I noticed the two of them together, I saw what they would become. I curled the red paper around the cone and it became a red coat on a body. I made a little paper face for it and it turned into a tree-topper that looked like Saint Nicholas for the top of a Christmas tree. I loved it so much that I decided I could never sell it so it graces out tree every year.
6. What do you find to be the secret to your success?
The secret to my success is customer service. I want a customer to not just buy from me but feel taken care of, especially since I create a lot of wedding orders for stressed-out brides. My customers have been the people who have given me many ideas, too, so I value them and listen to their feedback. When someone asks if I can create something for them that I have never done before, I am excited to take on the challenge, problem solve and take my work in a new direction.
7. Where are you now in your creative business and where will you be in the future?
My Etsy shop has taken off recently plus I work and sell my paper at a local artisans cooperative. I am a mother, and also have a part-time job. It’s a great problem to have so much work but I am struggling to find a balance right now. I don’t want to turn away business but when I am so busy that my work takes over my life and I can’t sleep because I am processing everything I have to do, then that’s a problem! I hope the future will bring more balance.
8. Any words of wisdom to share with fellow artist/crafters?
Don’t undervalue your work. Charge what your work is worth and if it doesn’t sell, keep reworking it until it does. Call yourself what you are: an “artist” instead of “crafter” or “home hobbyist.”
9. What is your most favorite handmade item you have had to part with?
I make paper sculptures by rolling my handmade papers and assembling them in interesting ways in deep shadow box frames. The first one I ever made was hanging in my studio for a year or so. I loved it. I finally decided to put it on Etsy just to show the breadth of the kind of work I can do but I didn’t think anybody would buy it. When it did sell, it was like parting with a child! I just sold another one this week and, to my surprise, it was just as hard to say goodbye as the first one!
10. Why do you love doing what you do (what fuels the fire)?
I learned a long time ago that, in order to be happy, I need to create and be creative every day. I love what I do because I have to do it to be happy. I have experimented with so many different creative outlets but I always, always come back to papermaking. I am so grateful that I have been able to re-create the craft for myself, to make paper sculptures, cards, Christmas ornaments, plantable paper with flower seeds, wedding invitations … All of these different ways of using the same medium have kept me motivated and excited. I am always surprised when I think of a new way to use it and always worried I will never come up with another good idea!
11. Shameless advertising, go for it babe? We want all your info!
My garden has always inspired me. I learn a lot about composing art from my garden – the colors, textures, compositions. Last year, I started a new line of paper that has wildflower seeds embedded into the paper. The idea is to keep recycling. Once this paper has been used, it can be planted to grow a wildflower garden and start the process of growing and recycling all over again. I also started taking pressed flowers and arranging them into figures of people. I only sell them in my local market and not online but they have given me enormous creative satisfaction.
12. This last one is not really a question but rather a space for you to share anything else with us that we have not covered.
Handmade products are wonderfully quirky and unique and creative because they can be. They are not mass produced, and you won’t find them in every store. This fact allows them to come with a personality and the mark of the hand that made them. For me, selling my items creates money for me to make more new items and explore my creativity further. I hope my customers are inspired by my work and driven to explore their own creativity.