Friday, April 17, 2009

Artist Spotlight on Beth Thompson

Tell me about yourself.
My name is Beth. I am originally from Canada, but have lived in so many places it would take me too long to count them. I stay at home with my two kids who are five and two. I am a military spouse of 13 years. My husband is active duty Army and we are currently at our fourth duty station in Washington state. I stopped going to work outside the home when we had our first child. In a short time I felt the need to do something other than be mommy, but still had no desire to go back to the "real world". So I took up drawing again, which I had been doing all my life, but had gone on a hiatus from since college. I taught myself to draw portraits and used my son for my inspiration and in turn did many drawings of him at various stages of his baby and toddler years. I soon had people asking me to draw portraits for them and I decided to shoot for the moon and try out a business. I opened http://www.thompsonportraits.com/ and was quickly busy drawing portraits for people that were willing to pay me for it. I could hardly believe it. Fast forward a few years and it got stressful. I found drawing portraits for other people not as rewarding as drawing my own family members for my pleasure and I slowed down on it. I began only taking the commissions that I thought were inspiring and continued to create drawings of things I chose to do. A few of those drawings are available in my etsy shop http://bethjt.etsy.com/.
Where did you discover Etsy?
Three years ago my mother moved to the US Virgin Islands. On my first visit to see her I discovered the joy of seaglass hunting. I couldn't get enough of it, it was so relaxing and I found it really interesting what the sea had done with carelessly discarded pieces of glass. They were smooth little gems and begged to be treasured. I immediately felt the need to make something with them and began making earrings and pendants. This is where I discovered Etsy. I did searches for seaglass artists and found this was amazingly a big thing, that people actually wanted. I signed up for Etsy as a buyer and on a whim decided to open a shop for my artwork and photography. Then I started adding the jewelry I made, including some I'd gotten into with beads and crystals. It was fun and gave me an outlet that got me "outside" of our cozy home where I played mommy all day. And I couldn't believe the amount of handmade things people were pedaling. Incredibly creative and original things that I couldn't wait to see more of and own some of.

How did you learn to crochet?
Last year I asked my mother if she would teach me to crochet again. She had taught me the basics as a child, but I had completely forgotten how to do even a basic stitch. She agreed and spent two days showing me how to do the absolute basics, how to make a chain, how to make a single crochet, and how to slip stitch. It seemed to click, and I caught on quickly. She then headed back home and I became obsessed. Within two days I had made my first hat. It was horrible! In another two days I had made another one, with a flower! It was better... Hats became my focus. Within a month I was making hats I felt were sellable. I tried a few out in my Etsy shop and I couldn't keep them in stock. So I continued and became more and more addicted. Finally the crocheted items were taking over my jewelry and art shop and I decided it was time to open a second shop. So I started http://theyarnchick.etsy.com/. I listed one hat, and the first day it sold. Hooray! The rest is history. I have written my own patterns and have a house full of yarn.

You are multi-talented in drawing, jewelry making, knitting, as I am sure many other crafts. What do you wish you could do?
Although my husband would kill me, since I already draw, make jewelry, crochet, paint, take pictures, do a bit of lampworking, play with polymer clay, and just randomly create things that go through my head...I really want to learn to knit. At least I would be able to use the same supply stash right? (good justification?) I would also love to learn to make soaps or candles. I could also really get into vintage hunting if I didn't know it would be another obsession to drive my family members crazy with. For now I am holding off on learning anything new. My home is already overflowing with my stashes of addictions.

How do you view your shops, as hobby or business?
It is a business, in that I am committed to it and I am determined to make each customer happy and want to come back. But it is also a hobby, where I'd like to bring in extra money to use to purchase things I might not normally buy, or extra fun things for the kids. And to buy wonderful handmade things on Etsy that I can't resist. My husband is very supportive and is happy as long as it is self sustaining.
Where would you like to see your shops a year from now? 5 years from now?
A year from now I'd like to see my shop full to the brim with a great selection of inventory for every member of the family. I'd like to be able to offer a lot more custom listings. I'd also like to have a few craft shows under my belt. I guess I better get to crocheting! I honestly don't have a plan beyond that. Keep doing what I'm doing as long as I enjoy it and it is still an outlet for me. If it becomes too stressful and I don't enjoy it anymore, it will be time to stop. I don't see that happening, I've been doing this for over a year now and I love it more than ever.

-Thanks Beth for a delightful look into a great teammember, pal, artisan, military spouse, mom, and everything else you do!

See Beth in her multitude of shops!

5 comments:

Moose Threads said...

Awesome read!

Robin@creations-anew.com said...

Wow so multi-talented....Love Beth!
Robin
CreationsAnew Photography & Design

Bubba & Rye said...

Beth truly fantastic interview!

Cams said...

Great reading some things I already knew, and some new also!

Anonymous said...

Im going to be spending most of it with friends and family. Im so excited!!
maccoysmoms@yahoo.com