Thursday, November 29, 2012

Three Cheers for Local Love!

Photo by the talented ByCary.
She, too, will be at the show tomorrow.
Hey there, local lover!

Just a quick thank you and shout-out from the girl behind the scenes. My name is Elizabeth Derby, and I am a freelance writer, marketer & PR gal here in C'ville. I've been coordinating the promotions for our spectacular Craftacular, and I can't tell you how happy your love of local has made me.

Thanks you to you, we were able to spread the word about this crazy band of artisans in ways we only dreamed of. From a few hundred Facebook likes and a 501-person "reach" in late October, we've grown to 910 likes and counting, with a almost-ridiculous-sounding reach of 17,425 people. My favorite number, though, is the invitees to our Holiday Craftacular: 1,500.


I can't predict how many people will show up this weekend, but I know I'm excited and grateful for every single one. Thank you for supporting the arts and this sweet little town we live in. Thank you for sharing your holiday spirit to lift the dreams of others. I'm proud to be a part of this year's event, and you've officially made it a success.

See you at the show!

Nancy Hopkins of Silver Muse Studio

Many small business owners balance parenting and their craft, and Nancy Hopkins of Silver Muse Studio is no different. "I am the mother of two active boys--ages 8 and 20," she says. "Because of their age difference it is like having two only children, and they keep me busy in their own ways. Making jewelry is a great creative outlet for me and helps keep me sane!"


Lucky for the rest of us! Nancy's beautiful work includes bracelets, earrings, and rings. Her jewelry features sterling silver in sculpted into a variety of delicate forms, often oxidized to bring out unique shades in the metal.

"Ever since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed making things - whether it was a poster for a school project or jewelry out of brightly colored telephone wires my father brought home one night. I used to love to watch my father use his power tools in his workshop. I was amazed at what he could create with his hands and a few tools. Today, I really look forward to going to my studio and using my own power tools to create wonderful jewelry."

To learn more about the Charlottesville-based artist, be sure to visit her Etsy store, and catch Nancy with the fruits of her labor tomorrow at CitySpace!

Win It Today: Hammered Silver Cuff

It's the last day before our Cville Holiday Craftacular and the last day for free gifts!

We wrap (ha) our three weeks of giveaways with a beautiful piece from longtime Cville Craft Attacker Nancy Hopkins. Nancy makes and sells handcrafted silver jewelry and accessories through her shop, Silver Muse Studios. Today's gift is a narrow sterling silver cuff with a delicate hammered texture.

Retailing for $75, this elegant bracelet could be yours for FREE! Follow the link below to enter now through 11:59PM tonight.

Please note that winners must be available to pick up their gifts during the 2012 Cville Holiday Craftacular on November 30th and December 1st at CitySpace.

If you win, you'll be notified by email first thing tomorrow. We want you to have enough notice that you can pick up your gift!

Click this link to enter: I Want to Win!

Good luck, and see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Roslyn Nuesch of Two Owls Pottery

Roslyn “Ros” Nuesch of Crozet, VA, makes functional ceramics out of white clay. She’s been creating pottery for over ten years, and a wide variety of her beautiful work can be found on her Facebook page at Two Owls Pottery.

We asked Ros how she learned the craft of pottery, and here she shares her stories, including her greatest influences and influence of her birthright on her brand.
How did you learn pottery?
I began taking a class at Albemarle High School with Becky Garrity.  She suggested I go to PVCC and take class with Tom Clarkson which I did for many years. Tom has been my greatest artistic influence, along with my talented classmates.
What motivates your art?
My mother in heaven motivates me. She was very elegant and I like to think my pottery has the same elegance.  Whenever I get stuck, I think about her and her enthusiasm for life and blocks seem to dissipate.
What item are you proudest of and why?
A large textured bowl that is my newest item as well. I find bowls the most difficult to make properly.  The inside curve is hard to get smooth and to match the outside and then to have the foot in the right place and size.  I struggled with this but think I am finally getting the hang of it.
Why do your customers shop with you?
My customers love that my pottery offers different colors, shapes and textures while remaining functional.  They say my prices are very reasonable. 
My studio is only open a few times a year right now, so people see my sign on the roadside and come in out of curiosity.
What are your most popular items and why?
My large mugs. People love the texture, size and the way the handle feels. My medallions are popular as well—people are attracted to them, and then I tell them how they originated.
My medallions began when I inherited my mother’s jewelry and began impressing it into the clay to keep her spirit alive. She was very much a people person.  I found two owls among her possessions and began stamping my pots, at PVCC, with these as my signature.  Unknown to me, my professor, Tom Clarkson, was trying to figure out who was using that stamp.
One day he came in and saw me with the stamped pots and said, “So you’re Two Owls.”  Well this just resonated with me because I had recently found my birth family and discovered that I am Native American. Native Americans are named at birth according to what is happening around them at the time of their birth, usually associated with nature.  Later in life, society bestows them a new name, one that is earned by their life experiences and accomplishments. So thank you, Tom!
What helps you concentrate?
I love the mornings in my studio with a classical music station on to help take me to my creative place away from reality for a while.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I was adopted, and my birth mother is a self-taught artist. Also I was a jockey, riding since age 6, and never thought of myself as creative or artistic.
What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving because it brings family and friends together in gratitude and love.

You can find Ros' work on display at our Cville Holiday Craftacular, and for her newest creations and upcoming shows be sure to visit Two Owls Pottery on Facebook.

Robert Wade of Pure Light Candles

The holidays just don't feel right without flickering candles accenting our festive decor. Richmond-based chandler Robert Wade, who has been making scented candles for several years, has a simple formula for success: quality.
"We buy bulk soy wax, the essential oils and 100% cotton wicks. We hand melt and hand blend every candle one at a time. We don't use chemicals or dyes, so our candles are visually identical. We pride ourselves on the simple, elegant look."
Robert's brand, Pure Light Candles, is sold throughout suburban DC, Richmond, Alexandria, and Charlottesville. "Our style," he explains, "is very simple. We say 'Naturally Elegant.'" Here, we asked Robert for a bit more information on his experience, fragrance selection, and what it takes to stand out from the candle crowd.

How did you learn candle making?

Lots of trial and error…especially the trial part. It really is just mixing and blending and taking candles to market to determine what exactly the customer really wants from a fragrance perspective.

What motivates your art at the moment?

Honestly? It’s really all about getting out every Saturday and Sunday and relating to the customer…giving them exactly what they want every week. It doesn’t get better than that.

What is your newest item?

Our autumn and holiday fragrances, which include berries, pines and spruces, pumpkin, cinnamon and spices.

What are people’s favorite fragrances?

Our top selling candles year round are White Tea & Ginger, followed by Grapefruit & Mangosteen. They really are special, although on opposite ends of the fragrance spectrum. The White Tea & Ginger is subtle, almost sensual, while Grapefruit & Mangosteen is a surprisingly pleasant blend of citrus (the grapefruit) with a light sweetness (the Mangosteen). We usually sell out of these at every market we do. Then in September, we start selling the popular autumn scents. The most popular of these are Cranberry Marmalade and Mistletoe.

Why do your customers shop with you?

We hear it every single week. Whether we are in Georgetown, Charlottesville, Richmond, Alexandria or Bethesda…our customer really appreciates 1st) the quality and 2nd the value of our candles. They know that they consistently will get the best product available every time.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

We are very humbled by it, but we hear it several times each week. We have many repeat customers, and they are not shy about telling us, or telling nearby customers that ours are the best candles they have ever burned. The ultimate compliment: “I came to market just for the candle”.

Do you pursue any other forms of art?

My other art is similar to candle making. My other real passion is cooking. I love to cook for others, and I am guided by the same principles: make exceptionally good food that I would eat every time.

Catch Robert and his scented delights this Friday and Saturday at our Cville Holiday Craftacular!

Win Them Today: Pure Light Soy Candles

Robert Wade of Pure Light Candles makes luxury candles in a variety of tempting scents. Today is your chance to win two best-sellers: the year-round favorite White Tea & Ginger, and the most popular seasonal fragrance, Cranberry Marmalade.

White Tea & Ginger and Cranberry Marmalade

These handmade and indulgent candles could be yours FREE with your entry into today's giveaway.

Please note that entries must be received today, and winners must be available to pick up their gifts at the Cville Holiday Craftacular on November 30th and December 1st.

Click now to enter: I Want to Win!

 Good luck!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tavia Brown of taviametal

Tavia Brown is the founder and artist of taviametal, creates one-of-a-kind and custom jewelry in sterling, gold and titanium using lost wax casting, cold and hot fabrication, die-forming, etching, raising, and stone-setting.

She explains her work, which includes rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets, as “both industrial and delicate, edgy and sweet. Inspired by the dichotomy of life, my style of elegance with an edge connects me to this duality that exists within my life.” Being both a mother and an artist, Tavia says, is a balancing act between two opposite yet similar demands. 

“My inspirations come directly from life experiences, namely family and memories, but they are also derived directly from the material with which I am working—the tactility of textures coupled with the awe I have for nature.” 

Tavia began her work as an artist at Appalachian State University, where she discovered her love of jewelry and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Metals in 1998. She then worked as a bench jeweler for a high-end jewelry designer for nearly five years—an invaluable experience for her growth as a metalsmith and a business owner. 

Tavia began her business part-time, helping her husband in his own entrepreneurial endeavors, until 2007. Now a mother of two, she is constantly working to keep taviametal a perfect match for her and her family.

Lindsey Mears

On the other side... Artist's book by Lindsey Mears
Lindsey Mears is a Charlottesville-based studio artist who creates handcrafted bags and books from vintage goods. Many works in her portfolio are artists’ books, a term with which your correspondants were unfamiliar and will therefore explain now. According to Stephen Bury via Wikiedpia:
Artists' books are books or book-like objects over the final appearance of which an artist has had a high degree of control; where the book is intended as a work of art in itself.
Here Lindsey talks with Craft Attack about the lost art of bookmaking, using found objects in her work, and fulfilling her childhood dream with Duran Duran.

I do hand-bookbinding and traditional leatherwork with a twist—my materials are largely recycled/upcycled. My leather bags are made with leather leftovers from upholstery and saddle-making. My book covers are made from library discards and old floppy discs, among other things.
Details from Wants a Situation, an artist's book by Lindsey Mears

She felt the weight of the aurora daily but would never see its light...

I learned bookbinding in 1999, in a night class at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon. Truly, as soon as I finished my first book, I knew that I wanted to spend my life learning everything about books—binding, printmaking, letterpress, papermaking, inks, all of it.
I also make mixed-media work combining found objects with photographic prints I make using 19th-centuries processes I’ve studied—daguerreotypes, cyanotypes, and gum bichromate printing.
My inspiration comes from a bunch of places—hand-painted business signs on buildings, great old fonts found in unexpected places, like the entrance to the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and on detective office doors in film noir films, in nature as I walk the dogs each morning, and in old Montgomery Ward catalogs and other vintage ephemera. The inspiration for my leather bags comes from the Pony Express era of simple rugged utilitarian satchels, and early train conductor bags.
Ask again tomorrow...
At this point in our culture, what motivates me is keeping alive obsolete technologies of printmaking and bookmaking. There is no better feeling than spending all day setting lead type, inking up the Vandercook’s massive rollers and discovering the impression it makes on a sheet of cotton paper. It connects me to printers throughout time, and all over the world. That is magic.
I’m most proud of my leather bags made from scraps of upholstery and saddle leather—each one is unique, and totally handcrafted. I spend so much time with each, making them the old-fashioned way—punching each sewing-hole with an awl and sewing each stitch by hand with two heavy-duty needles and linen thread. They are built to last.
I met with a client recently to discuss making an edition of books of his photography. At the end of our time together, he said that I had somehow verbalized and sketched out what he’d had in his imagination for years. It was the greatest compliment!
One thing most people would never guess about me is that I jumped onstage at a Duran Duran reunion concert and kissed John Taylor and Simon LeBon, fulfilling an elementary school dream.
Visit Lindsey’s website to see more of her incredible portfolio work, and be sure to drop by the Cville Holiday Craftular this weekend to marvel at the details in person!

Victoria Horner of Victoria Horner Creative Handbags

Victoria Horner creates original designer bags, each handcrafted with full attention to quality and detail. Her bags are recognized for their clean lines, vibrant, sophisticated colors, classic shapes and exquisite fabrics.

Victoria, who has been sewing since she was 13, began her career as a dress designer in NYC. While working in the advertising department of Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine, she created "little black dresses" for nearly the entire female staff. Discovering her passion, Victoria became an assistant women’s wear designer at J. Crew catalog, where she worked for almost four years. After working at J. Crew, Victoria started designing dresses under her own label, and sold them to Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue, as well as private clientele. When music industry publicists wore her designs to the Grammy and MTV Awards, several matching handbags. And so her handbag business was born.
In 1997, Victoria relocated from New York to Charlottesville, VA, and began Victoria Horner Creative Handbags. A fan has described her bags as "Kate Spade with spunk."
She sites her inspirations as styles from the past and fabrics and colors with which she chooses to work. Of her many designs, she’s proudest of her doctor bag (which is also her most popular item)—and the best compliment she’s ever received, she says, is a simple testament to quality: “Your bags make people happy.”
Check out Victoria’s classic line as well as her newest addition, a cross-body utility bag, at our Holiday Craftacular this Friday and Saturday at CitySpace. You can also find her work—along with darling illustrations—on her website,

Win It Today: Unique Titanium Necklace

Today's giveaway gift comes from designer Tavia Brown at Taviametal, who handcrafts jewelry in sterling silver, gold and titanium.

This gift is a gorgeous titanium disc (1/2" in diameter) with oxidized sterling silver gear and
sterling silver rivets on an oxidized 18" sterling silver chain. 

Valued at $75, this unique and elegant necklace could be yours FREE with your entry into today's giveaway.

Please note that entries must be received today, and winners must be available to pick up their gifts at the Cville Holiday Craftacular on November 30th and December 1st.

Click now to enter: I Want to Win!

 Good luck!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rose Valentino of Rosalba Valentino Designs

Rose Valentino of Rosalba Valentino Designs is an artist who creates unique couture clothing for women with creatively sourced materials, including vintage and antique, recycled and new elements.


Her style has an organic, feminine, modern-gypsy feel, but it's a real mix due to the collage-style work method and her tendency toward textile-based designs.

In this interview with the Livingston, VA, native, we explore the creative mind behind the artist who explains "clothing is my obsession, and nature and the human body and mind are my endless sources of inspiration."

How did you become a clothing designer?
I have known I wanted to do this since I was a child. I learned first from my mother and grandmother, and then from a variety of art teachers and mentors, in particular the owner of an amazing local fabric shop who brought me into her network of expert knowledge and love of textiles and sewing.
Who are/were your greatest artistic influences?
My greatest influences have come from stories. I’ve always been an avid reader and have found incredible emotive imagery from mythology, fairytales, science fiction, poetry, theater and performance--seeing Les Miserables as a young teenager was
 monumental. I also grew up in a natural, beautiful rural 
homestead surrounded by artistic, self-efficient people who were inspiring in their encouragement of creative endeavors.
In terms of recognizable figures: the lives and work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the sculpture of Auguste Rodin, fashion designers John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Alice Temperley.

Where do you get inspiration? Do you follow trends? 
I get inspiration from all the other artists out there in the world making the most incredible works of art from anything from rocks to wire screen to toilet paper. The internet has opened up such channels of viewing and communication--every day I discover another artist or musician. Sometimes they’re people who are gone now, and all that’s left is their work; sometimes it’s people out there right now creating and sharing. It’s such fuel. Along that same thread, the idea of trends is changing to me because we share so many ideas on Facebook and Pinterest that challenge people’s ideas of what’s hip and what isn't. I hope people follow whatever feels genuine to them.
What motivates your art at the moment?
Currently I am inspired by powerful, elemental metal colors like black, red, and silver, and am playing with color, texture, and transparency to create simpler, sensual pieces in silhouettes reminiscent of the 70’s.
Where do your materials come from?
My materials come from many places. I source fabrics both locally and online, from companies in the US and abroad. I’ve worked more with organic fabrics-particularly hemp-in the last few years and all of that has to come from outside the US because our government’s links with big business would be blown apart if they legalized hemp for its many uses here in the states. That’s a story for another time.
I also frequently receive donations of fabric and supplies from clients who are clearing house, or have had a family member or friend pass away who had a stash. This benefits us both, as textiles/clothing tend to carry more emotional ties for people and they appreciate letting these items move into their next reincarnation rather than throwing them away. Also, when I travel I seek out possible textiles or materials to bring home, and to my delight, my friends and family do this for me as well.
Why do your customers shop with you?
My customers come to me to find something very unique and beautiful that they know they won’t see on anyone else, or because they have been left to hang by a clothing industry that’s largely based on unrealistic concepts of women.
What is your newest item?
The latest piece is an A-line skirt with reverse appliques of flying birds done in lace so that the image is see-through.
What are your most popular items and why?
Because I work largely in one-offs, that is not a particularly relevant question for me. And since each person has individual style, people gravitate to different pieces I’ve made for different reasons. This question makes me think of this one dress I made that looked like true vintage, yet it wasn’t. Without fail, people commented on it, asking if it was vintage. Most people liked the look of it, but one woman had a visceral negative reaction to it, and this was really interesting to me. Collectively, the dress seemed to impact everyone, which I guessed was because of its nostalgic quality, but this woman must have associated it with something that carried a bad taste for her, and though I’ll never know what that was, I love that, for her, it was an immediate ‘no’.
How long have you been creating this form of art? Do you pursue any others?
I have been creating clothes, in one form or another, for about 15 years. I also do fashion illustration and occasionally work in charcoal, colored pencil, water color, or ink.
What time of day do you prefer to work? Where? What helps you concentrate?
I think the number one thing I took away from 4 years at university (VCU) was learning the discipline to work when I need to, which is a different thing from when I want to! I don’t have a preferred time of day to work unless I’m working on something very technical and then earlier in the day tends to be better--I feel clearer and more focused. But I’ve also learned to pay attention when inspiration hits. That’s what most artists live for and I try to be responsive to that when it forms up, and that can happen anytime, anywhere.
When I work at my studio, I have to have music on, and I need the temperature of the room to be nice, which is a challenge in an old converted school with a clanky dungeon furnace. I’m like Goldilocks--too hot! too cold! Luckily, I always have lots of clothing available for quick changes! Also, an almost daily 4:00 chocolate break helps.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you (or would never guess at first glance)?
Nobody would know that I can do a few hula hoop tricks. I’m still learning! But what a great question--I think my favorite thing about the human race is that people will always surprise you with their stories!--that surface appearance is just that, and tells us so little!
Discover more of Rosalba Valentino Designs' unique couture at her Etsy shop and our upcoming Cville Holiday Craftacular.

Christina Flowers of Magnolia Moonlight & Oh So Smitten

Today's giveaway artist is Christina Flowers, a Charlottesville-based illustrator and designer who creates a variety of paper goods, including graphic art prints, cards, calendars and mobiles. She also designs the lovely graphics for Cville Holiday Craftacular every year.

Christina's work in action.

Her style is clean and modern with a playful side that embraces bold color. Her lovely birthday calendars (one of which you can win today!) have been featured in two design books, Print & Pattern and Creative Calendar Collection.  

Christina manages two shops, Magnolia Moonlight and Oh So Smitten, and as of October 2012, an exciting new portrait business she explains here. Read on to discover her design inspirations, love of storytelling, and affinity to The Stars.

What is your artistic background?
I have a degree in Architecture and Industrial Design.  The study of color, form and light were a part of the daily education as well as the practice of creating.  I enjoy projects that I can create myself from start to finish. I strive to make artwork that can tell a story and has meaning.
Who are your greatest artistic influences?
Where do you get inspiration?
Recently a lot of my inspiration comes from my children.  Things I think of while playing with or reading to them.  Sometimes it comes on a long road trip where I am brainstorming with my husband.   I always carry one or two sketch books with me and when an idea strikes I sketch it out quickly so I can come back to it when I have more time. 

How long have you been creating this form of art?
I have been working professionally as a graphic designer for over ten years.  I started my company Magnolia Moonlight in 2007. I work with clients to create logos, invitations, newsletters, etc. I simply love working with people to help make their new business vision a reality.  I also create event packages, such as the posters, postcards ads and signage for Craftacluar.  

 My Magnolia Moonlight shop is a place where I send all of my extra creative energy.  It is a wonderful feeling when something I create from my heart is purchased and finds a new home.  I have sold my creations to people all over the world.  Interacting with my customers is extremely rewarding!
 In 2007, I also opened Oh So Smitten. This sister shop features invitations and prints with cute robots, silly woodland creatures and other goodies for the young and young at heart.
Tell us about your newest project.
I opened Head Shoulders Hand & Heart in October of 2012. I create custom portraits--"modern, folksy, and fun portraits for every age." This art is motivated by the stories of people, characters, and families.
Family Evolution.

What time of day do you prefer to work? Where? What helps you concentrate?
I have a home office and I find that I am most creative in the mornings.   I love listening to music while I work. My favorite song changes daily but I just saw The Stars in concert at The Jefferson, and I have loved the song Calendar Girl for a long time.

You can visit this Calendar Girl at the 2012 Holiday Craftacular this Friday, November 30th, and Saturday, December 1st, at CitySpace. Be sure to visit her online shops at Magnolia Moonlight, Oh So Smitten, and her newest addition, Head Shoulders Hand & Heart.