Thursday, September 1, 2011

Member Spotlight - Huzzah! Handmade

Today we meet one of our newest members, Kathryn from Huzzah! Handmade. You can also like them on Facebook.

Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Kathryn Hunter Luciana and I am thrilled to be a new member of the Hudson Valley NY Etsy team. I was born and raised in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York in Orange County. After some vagabond years of moving around NY State and then out West to Arizona, my husband and I moved back to the Hudson Valley to live in the town of Cornwall. I opened my shop on Etsy: Huzzah! Unique Handmade Wearables in 2008, and very much enjoy being a virtual shopkeeper.

What is your professional background? And what led you to your current craft?
How I arrived at this place in my life is kind of a long, winding road, but I’ve always been involved in art in some way. I’ve sewn since I was a pre-teenager, and I’m mostly self-taught. For many years, I was very involved with Fine Art Photography and have shown in quite a few national exhibitions. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature, and worked a bit in publishing, but for the past fifteen-plus years I’ve been working in the theatre business. I’m a member of IATSE, short for International Alliance of Theatrical and State Employees of USA and Canada. My particular niche is wardrobe and costumes, but I’ve also dabbled in scenic design, set decoration and props. Its free-lance work in various venues throughout the area, so my schedule allows me time to work at home a great deal; something I cherish.

I’ve always had an independent, entrepreneurial streak, so maybe that’s what’s brought me to where I am today. Like I mentioned, I’ve always sewn, but about 7 years ago, I decided to learn to knit. My initial motivation was a practical one: I often had periods of time on my hands in my theatre jobs, just waiting for things to happen, so having something very portable, like knitting, seemed like a great way to spend that time. I’m awestruck at the vast array of fibers out there just begging to be made into something beautiful. After learning the basics of knitting, I started felting, and that led me to thinking about making items from repurposed, felted wool garments: bags, dog coats, vase covers, bottle cozies, jewelry. I figured why not try to create a cottage business from this new-found craft? I discovered Etsy at one of the craft events in which I participated, did a bit of research, and opened my shop. My latest endeavor, is adding machine embroidery to my felted items, and designing embroidered leather jewelry. I think the embroidery really makes my accessories unique, and people seem to respond very positively to it.

What inspires you? 
Nature, color, beautiful fabrics or yarns, objects I find in the strangest places like thrift shops, yard sales, or even home improvement centers. Also, seeing what other talented artists have created and being amazed. My materials are a blank canvas in front of me and present a puzzle that I have to solve. I rarely use a pattern when I make my up-cycled, felted items. I use many materials that once were something else, like leather belts, wool sweaters, vintage buttons, scraps of material I’ve scavenged, allowing them spark my imagination to create something new. If I do come up against a wall creatively, I usually walk away for a few hours, days or sometimes longer, pick up another project and let the tricky one lie fallow for a while. Then, when I go back to it, things seem to fall into place.

Describe your workspace? When if your favorite time of the day to work? 
My workspace consists of a room in my home that houses my sewing machines, tables, supplies, notions and yarn. I have to admit that I’ve spilled over into a smaller room where I have a computer and storage, but I rationalize this by telling myself that’s really my cat’s room because his box is in there. I usually work on sewing and embroidering in the afternoons, and I knit whenever and wherever I can get away with it.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you want with you? Any guilty pleasures? 
If I were so unfortunate as to be stranded on an island with my supplies, it would have to be a pretty big island. I’d also need my family, including pets, a couple of good friends, electricity and a big, sturdy boat to get us all out of there, because I would need to get back to my guilty pleasures: reality TV, chocolate and wine to name but a few.

Words of wisdom for aspiring artists?
I really don’t feel qualified to give advice to aspiring artists, because I feel I will always be aspiring myself, but I think it’s important to do whatever you can to learn your craft well, and then keep educating yourself. If you have an itch, scratch it, because that itch is trying to tell you something. Improvise, or even change course if something else interests you. Even if you can’t work as often as you’d like due to the daily demands we all have, make sure you give yourself a little time to experiment, research, or simply think.

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