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 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
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 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!


Moose Threads said...

Awesome read! said...

Wow so multi-talented....Love Beth!
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!!