Monday, October 20, 2014

Maker's Session: Sarah Mimo Clocks

Ever come across a handmade item so awesome it leaves you marveling for a few moments? Me too. This post is part of a little series in which I talk to the people who make these awesome things. Not to steal all their secrets, but to get to know these awesome makers and get a glimpse into their day-to-day creative life. Read the other Maker's Sessions here.

Pinterest introduced me to Sarah Mimo's Etsy shop full of stunning, crazy-amazing laser cut clocks. If you haven't seen these beauties you are in for a visual treat because they are awesome. If you are a wee bit curious about how these are made (and I know you are) keep reading because Sarah shares all sorts of interesting bits about her work below. Don't forget to check out her website and friend her on Instagram.


Share a bit about yourself, your creative background, and how you describe your style. 
My name is Sarah Mimo, I'm a NYC based designer/artist, currently making laser-cut clocks. I grew up in the Midwest near Chicago. I went to Pratt Institute to study illustration which wound up being great preparation for what I do now. My work is probably most influenced by Art Nouveau and Mid-Century Modern design.

When did you get interested in working with wood and how long have you been laser cutting?
Wood is a really gorgeous material, I think everyone who works with it falls in love with it. I had always been interested in wood but I didn't really start working with it until right after college when I decided to build my own furniture to save money. I didn't have many tools and absolutely no experience so the end product was pretty crude. I've been laser cutting since my senior year in college. I had been making cut paper art since high school and laser cutting felt like a natural progression. I was drawn to laser cutting because I could work with more heavy-duty materials and therefor make products that were sturdier and more durable, unlike my paper work.

Sophia Clock

How did clocks come to be in your focus?
Growing up I always had a poor relationship with time, I was always running late or anxiously awaiting something. To me clocks had always been annoying because they never had good news, I think that's why so many of my designs are hard to read. But at some point my relationship to time changed, it became my cheerleader when things started to get stressful. Working on the clocks was my extremely literal way of reminding myself that "this too shall pass". Now I'm working on some new things that aren't clocks but I still really enjoy making new timepieces.

What does your creative process involve?
Some designs come together really easily and some I have to wrestle with for a while. Sometimes a clock starts as a traditional sketch, sometimes it's an iphone picture that I send through random apps. I finalize my designs in Adobe Illustrator and then send them through my laser cutter. After a piece is cut I dremel any parts that the laser couldn't get through and then it's ready for gluing, assembling, staining, and finishing. I make each clock myself and I hope to keep doing that. Getting messy and working with my hands is my favorite part of the process.


 How does an average day in creating go for you?
I like to spend the first half of my day working on orders (cutting, sanding, gluing, staining, finishing) and the second half working on new designs. I try to keep a pretty structured schedule so that I don't get overwhelmed. 

Who loves your product?
People who don't normally like clocks. The modern, geometric star clock is a popular design.

What bit of wisdom would you pass on to someone interesting in working with laser cutters?
I have nothing nice to say about laser cutters, they are a huge pain. I wouldn't work with them unless I had to. I use to outsource my cutting, which was a huge pain, and now I have my own setup, which is a different kind of pain. I'm grateful for them, but they have also been the source of 50% of my bad days over the last two years. (I don't think this would be good to include in the interview but it is the truth.)
On a different note, I get all my business advice from Grimes.


Do you teach any classes or have any tutorial/ebooks people can buy?
I don't, but I'm happy to help anyone who thinks they might need it. sarahmimo (at) gmail (dot) com

What is something the creative business has taught you?
Be kind to your fellow designers. I've met some amazing people who have looked out for me and pointed me in the right direction when I was getting started. Andrea at SaltyandSweetDesign.com, Kevin Stanton at kevinjaystanton.com, and Michael Delaporte at Michaeldelaporte.com

Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Yes! I'm working on some stuff I've wanted to make for a while. Non-clock things! They really embody what I've always hoped to make and I hope people enjoy it. It took a while for me to get the confidence to put this new work out there so I'm really excited. I'm experimenting with color and different materials. I'll be sure to let you know when it's ready.
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Isn't Sarah great? :) There are multiple ways to keep tabs on her awesomeness: Instagram, Etsy, Website.
 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dead Plants: A then / now progress report


This is what the back fence looked like early in the summer. The growth was intense. As you can see, the vines were creeping through the fence and actually causing some of the planks to pop out of place. No bueno. So began the battle.
I'm pretty sure that my dad finds spraying weed killer deeply satisfying. He asked where the spray was every time he came over. All that spraying eventually got us to the next few pictures:

Dead plants never looked so good! As I mentioned, it did take a few rounds of spraying (and a few months of waiting) for everything to die. There were quite a few bush-trees with substantial root balls to kill.

Fast forward a bit and with the moral support of Toaster-pup and the muscles of my dad, the work began.

The original plan was to plant a low maintenance oriental grass behind the fence. Something pretty and self-sustaining. However, the plans got reworked, as they usually do. I'm not really sure why there is a Great Dirt Pile behind the garage but there is. (yah! not.) In this great dirt pile are random landscaping rocks. And old shingles. And bits of garbage. Since I didn't feel like hauling the rocks away I decided to put landscaping barrier down and put the rocks where the oriental grass would have gone.
Is it pretty? Not really. Is it self-sustaining? Oh, yes.


BTW, my dad call it the "seawall". If I refer to it as such in the future, you know why.

PS - the Dirt Pile is still there but less Great (thus the carefully cropped "after" picture). Someday it will be gone and a full picture will be shared. I hope that the tree stump painted to blend in with the garage will also be gone. And that crap-tastic fence gate.
  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

DIY: How to make a 3D moon (or a moon pinata)

If you are like a few of the other people in my life and want to know how to make a moon like the on my mantle, today is your lucky day. It's much easier than it looks and I have a tutorial to prove it.

SUPPLIES:
Cardboard, hot glue gun, newsprint paper, box cutter (or xacto knife), pen, cord, nail

The white circles are to show where I stuck the nails into the cardboard.
Not too many years ago, I drew a picture of the guys from Metalocalypse on a nice sturdy piece of cardboard for Keith's birthday. Clearly, we were on a pretty strict student budget. While that poster hung in the apartment for several years, it had been living an unobserved life in the attic since we moved. I decided to repurpose the cardboard (again).

1_Draw the moon shape.
While you can totally free-hand the moon, I wanted a more precise shape since it was going to be so large. To do this I tied the cord to form a loop and hooked the cord on a nail that was stuck in the cardboard. Stick the writing utensil in the cord loop for a make-shift compass.
Once you have a circle drawn, shift the nail over a few inches and draw another. This will give you a lovely crescent shape. Draw a nose if you want one.

2_  Cut the moon out.
Use the first moon as a template for the second so you don't have to duplicate your handcrafted geometry.

As you can see, I peiced together one of my moon faces. Not a big deal. Hot glue is amazing stuff.

3_ Cut cardboard strips out of light weight cardboard (think cereal box).
These are what you will use to make the moon 3D. I made my strips 4 inches wide.

4_ Glue your moon
Bending as you go, glue the cardboard strips to the edge of one of the moon's face pieces. FYI, you might have to pinch the two peices of cardboard together until the hot glue hardens. Once you have glued strips around the entire perimeter, add the second face piece. If you are making your moon a pinata, you will want to add a hanging cord and candy before you glue the second face down.


5_ Paper!
This is the fun part. Still using hot glue, stick the newsprint on the cardboard moon form. As you can see, mine was crinkly, which added awesome texture. Continue adding paper till it is covered to your liking.
NOTE: Adding the decorative paper this way, in sheets, was MUCH quicker and less tedious than cutting fringe out of tissue paper. It all depends on what you want your end result to look like though.

And that's all there is to it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Maker's Session: The Cabin Gift Shop Q&A

Ever come across a handmade item so awesome it leaves you marveling for a few moments? Me too. This is the first post in a little series in which I talk to the people who make these awesome things. Not to steal all their secrets, but to get to know these awesome makers and get a glimpse into their day-to-day creative life.

If you aren't familiar with The Cabin Gift Shop on Etsy then let me have the pleasure of introducing you! Alyssa Nott, is the creator of awesome leather goodies.  My sister, Kali, is her assistant and let me tell you, these girl have a knack for leather crafting - stitching, staining, and stamping everything by hand. Seriously impressive, top notch stuff.  You will like what you see so be sure to check out the shop and follow along on Instagram.

Tell us a little about your creative background. 
Alyssa: First of all Shakti, We want to say thank you for allowing us to be part of your blog!
When I was little my favorite past time was watching people draw.  I used to beg and beg my parents to draw for me, a habit that they quickly found to be less than endearing. As a result, they began enrolling me in art classes.  I started working with clay, charcoal, watercolor and oil paints.  When I was eighteen I received an art scholarship, but ironically after a year I transferred schools with the intentions of being a veterinarian. It turns out that animal medicine is not my calling, and though my degree is in biochemistry, I am thrilled to be able to deviate from that and run my Etsy shop.

Kali: Alyssa and I met at school while studying Chemistry. After five years of studying science, I was delighted to join her team and begin to embrace the right side of my brain once again. My mother, a woman who is the essence of creativity, spent endless years instilling in me the love of art and the knowledge that art and beauty infiltrate every aspect of life. I love working with Alyssa. She is a wee bit OCD about her work and takes great pride in each item she makes; she strives for perfection. Her efforts have resulted in a process that produces high quality leather products and I am proud to be a part of of her shop. Although we are very similar people, our strengths and perspectives are very different which results in a healthy and effective collaboration. I hope to remain a part of The Cabin Gift Shop for a long time.

When did you get interested in leather crafting and how long have you been working with it?
The first leather piece I ever made was actually a knife sheath that I put together from a kit several years ago.  I bought the kit for my then boyfriend (we are very excited to be getting married next August) for Christmas but he took too long to get around to using it, so I did it.  I was hooked! And things have escalated considerably from there. 

How would you describe your style?
Although our marketing style is rustic, our products are polished and professional. We strive to produce a quality product that is both utilitarian and beautiful.

What does your creative process involve?
In the beginning I was very inspired by nature and animals.  As my shop has grown the customers have become the inspiration. They are able to present requests or challenges that push us to make new designs and reconsider our products.


How does an average day in leather crafting go?
We start pretty early, usually around six or seven. First we spend an hour or so doing computer work and after that it’s all leather.  Our process is hands on every step of the way. Cutting, carving, staining, finishing, sewing, and more finishing – it’s all done by hand.  As there are only two of us in the shop there is always LOTS to do and every day is different, which is something we love!

Any exciting projects on the horizon?
We are very excited to be working on our first partnership with a website outside of Etsy. We are finalizing the agreement so I don’t think I can reveal the site yet, but it is super exciting to have the opportunity to expand our business this way.

Who loves your product?
Our products are both utilitarian and timeless so our customers cover a pretty wide variety of people.  We’ve worked with everyone from young students and hipsters to middle aged professionals to farmers to elderly who have proven to be somewhat less than fully computer literate, but very sweet.  I think that one of the great things about Etsy though, it brings people and shops together that would otherwise never consider each other. Our most popular products include our field notes vest, our cardholder and the small Moleskine notebook cover.






Do you have a "day job"?
This is my day job.  Kali and I both do this full time. Which is completely exhilarating. 

What bit of wisdom would you pass on to someone interesting in working with leather?
You will learn from your mistakes and your mistakes will be plentiful.  Also, leather is quite a bit like hair, it has a mind of its own and will do what it wants, best to learn to work with it and not against it.


What is something the creative business has taught you?
When I started working with leather it was a hobby that grew into my job.  I’ve been learning tons about customer service, marketing, and business in general. I love that I am able to make a living doing something I love so much! I feel like I am challenged and forced to grow every day.
____

A big thank you to Alyssa and Kali for answering all the questions :)
Don't forget that their leather phone cases and wallets make awesome gifts for all the hard to shop for men on you Christmas list! Check out the shop and see all the pretties on Instagram


Thursday, October 2, 2014

4 years!

Keith and I met on the first day of our first graphic design class at college. I was still a senior in high school and desperately wanted a friend to make college classes less intimidating. I thought he was cute and looked friendly so I asked if I could sit by him. True story.
I wish I could say that marked the beginning of the sweetest dating relationship that ever was but it doesn't. We were friends for a while. Then there was a shameful period where I was mean to him in a petty, high-school girl sorta way. When I got over myself I realized that I missed Keith's easy friendship. A friend convinced me to call him after listening to me moan and groan about how much I missed him. I whipped out my flip phone, dialed, immediately felt like an idiot, and was so, SO relieved when it went to voicemail. He did NOT call me back, but he did send a text or two :)
A text or two turned into talking > hanging out > dating > marriage.
And now we are on year 4. Complete with a pup and cozy home.
The way things work out can be so funny but I am blessed to have had this man promise all his days to me.