Category Archives: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle

Harvesting the Biosphere

“Harvesting the Biosphere is still the most fundamental economic activity of modern civilization. Crops for food, crops for animals, wood, raw materials, wool, cotton… without these things there is no civilization.”

How much life is there in the biosphere? By “biosphere,” he means everywhere on earth where there are living things: in the air, on the ground, and in the oceans. …Ultimately he concludes that the dry mass of all living things on Earth is about 1.6 trillion metric tons.

 

To read a book review written by Bill Gates and watch a little video from the author, visit: http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Books/Energy/Harvesting-The-Biosphere

Artist Spotlight: Louise Cady-Fernandes of The Hole Thing

For the past couple weeks I have been publishing environmental news and reviews on a new blog called Green Leaf Reviewer. Louise Cady-Fernandes of The Hole Thing in Lexington, Massachusetts was pleased to share some information with me and I felt that now with both blogs it would be fantastic to give her double the exposure so this interview will be posted on both blogs today.


Can you tell us a little about what it is you do?

I create a line of whimsical felted wool sweaters, housewares, and accessories, that are made from recycled sweaters. Many of my sweaters have die-cut holes in them which create windows for whatever is worn underneath. The circles that come out of all the holes are recycled again onto other products.

How long have you been creating felted items such as clothes, housewares and accessories?

I came up with the design concept in November of 2005 while I was at Susan Bristol Inc. I worked there in knitwear design for 16 years. I made a felted “hole” sweater for myself never intending for it to turn into a business, but the idea quickly caught on. THE HOLE THING hit the market in September of 2006.

What is the creative process behind your work? How does an idea take shape?

THE HOLE THING grew out of my love for both polka dots and felted wool. For years creating a sweater with holes had been on my list of things to make for myself. I didn’t want to knit it though as that seemed too monotonous. Then one day, while I was making a blanket out of old sweaters that I had felted and cut into squares, it came to me to make my hole sweater out of an old felted sweater. The creative process for my line is continually evolving and expanding which I love. Now I have 18 products that include among other things, scarves & hats, candle holders & vases, note cards, and a felted jewelry line that incorporates the leftover holes that are punched out of all the sweaters.


Where do you acquire the wool used in your designs?

I shop at thrift stores, but I also get lots of hand me downs from friends and family. My 86 year Mom also gathers old sweaters for me occasionally. I usually buy between 30-50 sweaters at once.

Why recycled/upcycled wool?

Why not? There is so much of it out there. Anytime we can use what is already available a new product doesn’t need to be produced. This is terrific because virgin resources aren’t being used for production. New products take precious energy to create, and often have hazardous environmental waste such as dyes and other pollutants. New products also consume lots of energy because they need to be packaged and shipped long distances.


How do you feel that using upcycled, and natural, wool helps the environment?

see above.

When did you first become interested in living and working in a green way by repurposing?

Both of my parents grew up in the depression and living a more minimalist life kind of seeped into me like osmosis! My dad was forever running around turning off lights, my mom cleaned out jars of mayonnaise etc with a spatula to “get every little bit”. For me being green isn’t a sacrifice or a challenge, it is something that brings me pleasure. I am forever thinking about how I can do things more thoughtfully. The beauty of THE HOLE THING initially for me was as much about the design as it was about having a business that upcycled.

Has any one green practice become second nature, something you personally do every day?

I would have to say that my greenest practice is being conscious about what I do- I am always wondering how I can do something in a more environmentally mindful way. For me it’s just about paying closer attention.


What green practice do you recommend readers try?

Gosh there are so many! How about this- try getting organized enough so that you only have to grocery shop once a week. I know this sounds horrendous but it honestly only takes a few minutes of planning each week. Shopping once a week not only saves on repeat, gas guzzling trips to the grocery shore, but it also saves on trips to get take-out food and all the wasteful packaging it creates. My website has lots of other great green tips.

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

All the different hats that need to be worn. My favorite thing is to design. Luckily though, I think I am about equally right, and left, brained so at least the book keeping and other logistical tasks are a little more satisying for me than for most artists. For instance I like to balance my checkbook and I know that this is a rare thing for most everyone.

Do you remember the feeling of your first sale? Has that feeling changed now that you have sold many more items?

I do remember the excitement of my first sale. I think I like doing craft shows because although the excitement has diminished, the feeling gets created over and over again. I love to see the happiness that my whimsical designs provide people. It makes me happy.

What is your advice to a fellow artisan who is new to their industry?
Figure out how much you want to make per hour for your work. Then keep track of how much time it takes to create what you make and how much your supplies cost etc. This has been very helpful to me because I know immediately which of my products are cost effective and which aren’t. My other advice in business is to plan on making mistakes. They will teach you and will act as arrows pointing you in which direction to go in next.


Do you have online presences where readers can learn more about you?

Yes — The Hole Thing
(Editor’s Note: Louise also has an Online Shop on Etsy)

Is your work featured in a boutique or other brick & mortar location?

I am in nine stores. The newest one is a wonderful new store called Bead and Fiber in Boston’s south end on Harrison Avenue.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Sharon Kutz of Studio Musings

I was pointed in the direction of Sharon Kutz’s Santa Maria, CA based shop by a former interviewee, Judi FitzPatrick and when I viewed the items in Studio Musings, I knew Sharon had to be featured! As an Artist Sharon works with varied mediums such as glass and interesting thrift store finds to create out of this world mosaics and funky windchimes. Her items utilize principals of recycling, repurposing and upcycling to create one of a kind pieces that will stun your senses! Sharon truly embodies what it means to make a difference and was thrilled to share her thoughts with us.


Can you tell us a little about what it is you do?

I take a found item that is unwanted and distressed, clean it up, and make it into something that’s wonderful, appealing to the senses, and is just plain fun!

How long have you been creating mosaic art?

I have been doing mosaics for about 5 years.

What is the creative process behind your work? How does an idea take shape?

Unless it is a commissioned piece, it sort of evolves. Sometimes I will find a tray that looks interesting and I can see it finished with the mosaic already on it. Other times, I just play with the stained glass colors and all of a sudden it hits me. Then I get to work. Even as I work, other ideas come, and I may go down that trail of thought, finishing with something completely different than what I started with- and loving it!

Where do you acquire the glass and gems that go into your mosaics?
There is a stained glass studio in town that sells its left over scrap glass. I get most of my stuff there. The glass gems are bought at garage sales or friends give them to me. Once in awhile, if I need a certain color, I will buy at a craft store.
What made you decide to use recycled type pieces to create your art?
I have been a thrift store shopper for a long time, and I would find these awesome pieces that were damaged or neglected, and I started thinking- I could do something with that! – help it, make it useful again. Better than new.
How long have you been creating windchimes from teapots and other surprising household objects?
I began with wind chimes about 8 years ago. I made a gift for someone out of an old copper teapot, put a plant in it, and attached some old silver plated utensils and I was hooked. It sounded so nice and the person loved it. I got my husband to buy me a power drill and I took off. I can’t help looking at things as “potential” and have even been scolded at some craft shows for using a particular pattern of silverware in my piece. “Don’t you know how much this spoon is worth?” When I tell them it was destined for the dump and I cleaned it up and repurposed it to be used as a chime, they usually change their tune.


What was your inspiration in creating those pieces?
My inspiration comes from a lot of places. First, I love old, antique things. I see something as beautiful, when others say its ugly, or too damaged, and want to throw it away. Secondly, I want to make something of quality- that will last. It has to elicit some emotion, or its just not right. Many of my repeat customers say, “it just makes me smile” when looking at my wind chimes. That’s what I want.
When did you first become interested in living and working in a green way by repurposing?
I think it started when I had to close out my mom’s house, and sell it, I realized that she was always “green”. She never threw anything away and had items from my grandmother. She lived simply and was happy with what she had. I learned a lot from that and have been trying to repurpose ever since.
Aside from repurposing materials, are there other ways do you work in an eco friendly manner (sealants, energy conservation, working from home, etc)?
I have a room in my home that we made into a studio. I sit by a big window and most of the day, I can use the sunlight for my projects. The glue I use on my mosaic pieces is a non-toxic product. The grout sealer is water soluble but I haven’t found a true ‘green’ sealer yet.


Has any one green practice become second nature, something you personally do every day?
We have an acre and a half of land, and we are in the process of planting drought friendly plants (deer friendly too) and using gorilla fur to cover large unplanted areas. We have a vegetable garden and an apple orchard and all of our produce is completely organic. On the trees, we hung old milk cartons with molasses and vinegar to dissuade the apple moth. It works pretty well and is all natural.
What green practice do you recommend readers try?
Most of your readers probably can tell me more than I can tell them. I’m still learning new things. I am so encouraged though, by the younger generation, and their willingness to get on board with all the recycling-going green. My youth was spent in the 50’s and 60’s and we weren’t so concerned with preservation. There is hope!
As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge as an independent artist is probably- selling my art. Having people “get it” when they look at my pieces. Realizing how much time is in each piece.
What has been your greatest success to date?
My greatest success to date was my first sale on Etsy! It was so encouraging.
What is your advice to a fellow artisan who is new to their industry?
My advice to a fellow artisan would be to never give up. Believe in yourself and keep on going, keep on creating.


Do you have an online presence where your work can be viewed?
My online presence is at Studio Musings. Eventually, I will have a website at studiomusings.com but it is not quite ready. I bought the domain name, and my husband’s still working on it.
Is your work featured in a gallery or other brick & mortar location?

I will be doing some craft festivals this year. Autumn Arts is held in Santa Maria on Oct.4th. I will be showing with the Los Padres Artist Guild. Also, there is a big Country Christmas Crafts Fair and Boutique on Nov.28&29th at the Veteran’s Memorial Bldg. in San Luis Obispo, where I will have my own booth.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Beth Hinson of Junkyard Gypsy

What is assemblage art? That is a question I was most intrigued for Beth Hinson of Junkyard Gypsy in Albemarle, NC to clarify through her interview. She is an avid collector of all things, breaks them down and reassembles them into interesting pieces of artwork. Some are funky, some are creepy, some are cute but all of her work operates from one simple principal: items that others deem trash are really a gold mine of treasure to her! Read on to see how she is committed to a better planet and how her art contributes to that mission everyday.


Can you tell us a little about what it is you do?

Well, I recycle old, assorted bits and pieces to create assemblages that resemble people or animals.

What was the motivation behind the creation of your assemblage art?

I had boxes and boxes of “stuff” that I couldn’t bear to throw away, as each piece seemed to have a history or story behind it. Most of what I use has dings, rust, holes, whatever, and to most people that would make it useless, something to throw in the trash. But every time I would start to load a box in the truck to take to the dumpster, I would spy something that seemed to be a treasure. As time went by, and more and more stuff accumulated, pieces started to acquire a life of their own – especially when a clock would chime unexpectedly, or the sun would hit a piece of silverware.

Where do you acquire the pieces that go into each design?

Oh, almost anywhere, but the dumpster is my favorite place – I get a thrill out of rescuing something that’s about to go to the landfill. I’ve made friends with the workers at the local dumpsters, and they often save things for me they think I might like. Now that I’ve started making the assemblages and selling them, friends will sometimes drop by with their “trash” to see if I want any of it. I’m also usually part of the “clean-up crew” at estate auctions, buying things at the end of the day that no one else wanted.

Why is it important to you to use salvaged pieces in your designs?

It’s really the whole premise of my art – rescuing lost treasures. Sure something might have a ding or a bad patch – but don’t we all? It’s just my little way of trying to fight back against our disposable society.

What is the creative process behind your art? How does an idea take shape?

My creative process involves a lot of staring – I’ll line up pieces I’ve accumulated and just sit and stare at them a while. Eventually this cracked croquet ball seems to like that vase, or this lonely doll head tells me she likes that candlestick. And sometimes pieces just fall together into a fun shape in the box.

What inspires you as an artist?

Almost everything, but especially nature. I always feel close to my maker when I see a beautiful sunset, or a field of wildflowers. That inspires to keep everything I can out of the local landfill.

How long have you been selling your art?

I’ve been selling about a year – making and giving gifts long before that.

Do you remember the feeling of your first sale? How has that feeling changed after selling for so long?

Gosh, yes, I was soooo excited – I could hardly believe that anyone would actually buy one of my little creatures. It’s still a thrill, each and every time, and I love to hear back from folks who have given one of my creatures a home.


What does the Green Movement mean to you?

Just simply for each person or each family to do whatever they can do to minimize the danger to their surroundings. We don’t go all the way with solar panels and electric cars – there is a lot of expense associated with some aspects of going green. But there’s also any number of things anyone can do that are cost-free and that hold significant benefit over time.

When did you first become interested in living and working green?

I grew up as a child of the 70’s energy crisis, so I’ve always had some awareness of the issue – my dad would cover the windows with plastic during the winter, and during the worst of the energy crisis we had no lights on our Christmas tree LOL. But it’s only been for about the last five years that my family has really made a concerted effort to be more careful about our impact on the planet.

What inspires you to take care of our planet?

Really, it’s when I think about the generations of my family that will hopefully come after me – my children and their children. I want a healthy place for them to live. I was also fortunate enough to visit Alaska recently – being on a glacier is about the closest you can come to heaven. The fear of losing such a breathtaking, inspirational part of our planet is certainly motivation.

Has any one green practice become second nature, something you personally do every day?

There are lots of little things we do every day. Just cutting off lights, cutting the oven off before baking time is over, turning down the thermostat, line-drying clothes, driving 55 or below, using curly-q light bulbs, cleaning the air filter, using re-usable shopping bags, re-using aluminum foil and zipper bags, growing and canning our own garden vegetables, raising our own eggs – all simple things, but every little bit helps.

What green practice do you recommend readers try?

Having a compost pile! It’s a great way to dispose of food scraps and garden/lawn/leaf trimmings, and you’ll have the prettiest flowers on the block 🙂

Is there an eco-friendly product you use in your home that you would recommend?

We really like the curly energy-saving light bulbs, and we love the water filter on our tap water – we never use plastic water bottles anymore.

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

Just getting my product seen – I know next to nothing about marketing. And it’s still surprising to me that there’s a market for what I do – I just thought it was a fun way to recycle “junk”.

What has been your greatest success to date?

The reception I’ve gotten on the Etsy website has really made me feel like an actual artist – it’s been great learning from the other artists there, and applying what I’ve learned to my craft.

What is your advice to a fellow artisan who is new to their industry?

Just go for it – don’t let anyone poo-poo your ideas. If you like it and get satisfaction from it, that’s the most important thing.


Do you have an online presence where your work can be viewed?

Junkyard Gypsy
Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Environmentally Conscious Movie Spotlight: Bio-Dome


Released in 1996, Bio-Dome attempted to bring an eco-conscious attitude to the forefront of the burned out minds of teenage boys everywhere through use of crass humor and wild fantasy (such as the fact that not one but two attractive and intelligent women could actually be interested in the lead characters Bud and Doyle). If there was not an environmental back plot this flick would be classified, like many other movies starring Pauly Shore or Stephen Baldwin, as a “stoner” movie but because there is an effort to include a fantastic moral message, the bad acting and terrible script take a back seat in this review.

The plot is simple — A couple of unattractive, lame guys with a generally cavalier attitude about the planet miraculously manage to date environmentally stringent and beautiful women then through a course of predictably moronic twists, somehow become locked inside, destroy and subsequently end up saving an entire, working eco-system.

Does this concept sound a bit far fetched? Remove the idiot character factor and that leaves us with a sealed, working eco-system. This notion is one that dates back to the early 1800’s when a British physician discovered that plants could grow under glass. It would be fair to assume that Nathaniel Ward would be proud to learn his findings were used as fodder for a comedy which is the basis for why this movie will get a positive review here.

Some concepts discussed in the movie are recycling, land clean up (litter is discussed several times) and an appreciation for Earth Day. The movie is not a motion picture epic but holds a slight bit of predictable humor while it promotes bettering the environment. That is a notion we should all support so I give this movie 2 out of five “green” leaves.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Everyday People Making a Green Impact – Spotlight on Ginger Cooke

Recently while perusing blogs I read all the time, I came across a post from one of my favorite authors, Ginger detailing how she had fought for, and won, a new recycling program in her office. Immediately I thought “hooray for fighting for planetary change Ginger!” and asked if she would be interested to share her experiences in how she achieved her goals with our Organic Mechanic readers. She was thrilled to do so!

It is important to note that Ginger does not work for an environmentally focused company; she is in accounting at a large automotive corporation in Colorado outside of the Denver area. She truly embodies what it means to make a difference on our planet and I hope others will take a queue from her actions and fight for the betterment of the Earth in their own offices, cities, towns and states. Take action – write letters, create proposals, pick up trash in the street – every little bit helps and that is something Ginger takes pride in working towards every day.

How long ago did you become interested in a more eco-friendly lifestyle?

I’d have to say that my interest really began to form about 3 years ago. I moved into a 1 bedroom apartment by myself and the owners didn’t have a recycling program. I did a little research on recycling for apartment living and realized that Denver’s not all that up and coming in the green movement quite yet. There are virtually no apartment complexes in this area that have a recycling program for their residents and that really weighed heavily on me. Recycling is supposed to be one of the easiest ways to reduce and re-use so I decided that I would begin looking into different ways I could make a difference as one person and perhaps spread the word through example. That’s when I began blogging too. I wanted to write about environmental and energy saving tips I’d found and implemented for myself.

Do you remember the first green effort you personally completed?

It seems small, but I was so proud of myself. While in that apartment I found a free recycling dumpster placed by the Shriners next to a grocery store and I would carry all of my recyclables to the dumpster every week. I started keeping a recycling bag at work and I would do the same from there. It felt really good that I had made an effort and was doing something that was good instead of turning my head because it was inconvenient at times. It just blossomed from there.

When did you first approach the powers that be in your office to discuss setting up a recycling program?

Back in February of this year we were currently recycling paper, but that was all. We give out free bottled water and there are so many plastic bottles that get thrown away and it’s pretty heartbreaking to have to tell a customer that no, there’s no recycling container, sorry.

How did you approach the topic (written proposal, mounds of research, etc)?

The company I work for is really great, they have this program set up where a representative from each department gathers ideas and suggestions from their co-workers and takes them to a committee to discuss, plan and possibly implement these new ideas. That’s when I first planted my seed. I was told that if I did the research and got all of the details worked out then we could have a recycling program at work. It was pretty simple actually; I called the waste company we use, asked a few questions and found someone to provide me with all of the details. She faxed me everything I needed from programs, plans, pricing and dumpster sizes and I was on to the next step of getting the actual approval.

What was their initial response?

The approving manager seemed a little hesitant at first because we’d have to find room for another dumpster and it would add more expenses every month. I heard from a representative of the committee I mentioned above that he was going to approve it anyway; then he moved and we got a new manager. After we presented him with all of the same information he was very enthusiastic, but didn’t want to spend the money so it stopped there…it was about May by this time.

What motivated you to continue to pursue this venture even after meeting with resistance?

I never really gave it up; I just let it sit and waited for another opportunity to present itself. Then, last month my comptroller and I both noticed that our trash service was doubling in cost every other month. One month it would be about $300 and the next, $600. We’d never noticed before because frankly, we’d never really been watching our expenses so closely until money began getting so tight (there’s my silver lining around the economy cloud). Our bill was doubling every other month because of the frequency we’d have to call and have it emptied. I started wondering that maybe we could curb that cost by recycling. It makes sense, right? Less waste = less roll-off dumpster service = less money.

Did you involve the help of others in the office to champion this effort?

Yes! I absolutely couldn’t have done this by myself. A couple of days later, a co-worker came to me and asked me where that plan went since she hadn’t heard anything in a while. I explained the situation and made a copy of the information for her so she could give it a whirl too. She went to another representative of that committee who hadn’t heard of the plan before because he had just joined. He came to me and asked me some questions so he could present it again. I told him what had been discovered about the trash service and he presented it in such a manner to show that, in the long run, we would actually be saving money because recycling is considerably cheaper than trash service.

What did it feel like when your proposal was finally approved?

It felt like a victory for the planet! I think I did the wave right there in my cubicle.

Were the other employees immediately receptive to the idea of recycling at work?

The news spread around the whole store and there were a lot of excited people that I didn’t even know were supporters.

Do you find that it is being adhered to?

Well, we’re still in the roll out stages since this just happened recently. We have to have the dumpster delivered and set up recycling containers in the store. I have a feeling it will really take off though. When I first transferred to this location last year, hardly anyone was using the boxes we have placed for paper shredding and they were just throwing all of their paper in the trash. They didn’t know that everything that got shredded in those boxes was recycled. Since that word has spread we’ve had to add more boxes because they’re always full now. I think this will be the same way.

What are some other ways you are green in your own daily life?

I take public transportation 3 to 4 times every week to lessen the demand on oil and create fewer emissions…I get a lot of reading done too. 🙂

I only use household cleaners, detergents, body care and cosmetics (pretty much everything) that are free of petroleum products, bleach and are 100% plant based.

I buy organic and items made from recycled materials when I can.

As my light bulbs run out, I replace them with energy saving ones and I try to unplug electronics when they’re not in use so they don’t leak energy when they’re not even on.

I make an effort to never use disposable water bottles and to use my own cup when I buy coffee or tea away from home.

I’d have to say though, that the biggest effort that I’ve completed is to transform my diet and my lifestyle and go 100% vegan. It’s not just good for people and for the animals that we eat, but raising and feeding those animals for human consumption really takes a large toll on the environment.

Are there other Earth friendly causes or programs you are attempting to institute at your job or other locations?

Next up at work: the transition from bottled water for customers to a water cooler system….one step at a time, right?

I’ve recently written a letter to Starbucks on their website encouraging them to curb their excessive water usage and to make recycling mandatory in all of their United States locations. I encourage anyone and everyone to write them as well. We need to make a big voice to be heard with such a large corporation. Use my letter or email it to everyone you know and have them get involved as well.

I’ve also recently joined a local animal rights group and have gotten involved in raising money for farm sanctuary, a non-profit animal rescue, and for yesonprop2 in California, which is coming up in this November’s election.

Editor’s Note: This month Ginger is posting one post a day on her blog for veganmofo and I strongly encourage everyone to check out her wit and way with words during a month where she will be sharing lots of yummy vegan recipes; just another check in the Earth friendly box Ginger.

From all of us at TOM, thank you for your inspiration!

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Jess Pillmore of A Second Chance

Jess Pillmore can not simply be defined as a Fiber Artist as she is skilled in various, eclectic endeavors including Teaching Performance Art and playing music of her own. Although A Second Chance is based out of Austinville, Virginia, Jess herself claims “we’re on the road so much, a lot of the time I’m creating in hotels and in the car”. When a business in Fiber Arts is based 100% on reclaimed yarn it is easy to imagine acquiring material to create those pieces in a car! Jess has a real focus on the planet not only through her Fiber Arts but in many aspects of her life and she was excited to share her experiences with us.


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

When I’m home (which is rare but glorious), I enjoy the benefits of freelancing and being my own boss… aka I stay in my pj’s while I correspond, send out contracts, research new pieces, write new songs, create new designs and enjoy the quiet of rural Virginia. I’m obsessed with a whistlepig (groundhog) that eats from our apple tree. He’s a riot and huge! Then, when I’m on the road, I have to focus more on meeting new people (audiences, students, staff, artists), the ever-changing views from our car, NPR, creating a “home” where we are right at that moment so my husband and I never lose our footing, lose our roots. Kind of general, but we have to do all that in a day when we’re touring/teaching/performing.

How do you balance your life in music with your other endeavors?

Well, I have to keep reminding myself (’cause sometimes it doesn’t feel this way) that the common thread to all these “different” occupations – theatre, music, dance, fiber arts, producing and running a business – is me. So, the balance has to come from me. I have to focus on the moment and what inspires me in that moment. I move back and forth from all these occupations constantly, sometimes within the same day, depending on the situation. But I love it and that’s what helps. If it was stress or a chore, then I wouldn’t do it. Life’s too short to be bummed out. I try and exercise a lot, eat well and appreciate all that’s around me… the rest is play.

What type of actions do you take while touring to reduce your carbon footprint?

I tour in a Prius (love it!). I’m an electronic girl, so that means electronic press kits, contracts, etc. It helps lessen all the paper and plastic in my business on and off the road. I’m uber conscious of my tour routing – making the most of every stop and trying not to back track or travel out of the way. I combine a lot of my other occupations with my touring in order to do that better – teaching workshops in neighboring cities when playing a gig, etc. I try and travel light and buy local wherever we are.

What suggestions do you have for touring musicians to lessen their own environmental impact while on the road?

I’ve found that choices that help the environment help you too (and vice versa)… being smart and economical about your tour routing is better for everyone, including your wallet (which is really important as in indie on the road). Pack your own food (in bulk), be self contained to lessen your trash across the country. And with everything, the more research and pre-production work you do, the more you save in the long run – save for yourself and save the environment.

What drew you to fiber arts?

My great-grandmother, grandmother and mom were/are big time crafters – cross stitch, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing, you name it. I picked it up from them when I was little and loved the quiet feeling of community sitting and creating with them. And there’s a great feeling of accomplishment, for me, seeing a piece I made from scratch. Plus, the colors and textures are a ton of fun to play with.

Who or what inspired you to pursue creation of fashion?

See above, it’s a family thing!

Where do you acquire material to create your wearable art?

Thrift stores all across the country. I hunt out the “I can’t believe someone tossed this!” pieces of clothing to deconstruct and then re-craft into something new. It was hard, at first, to take a part some of these pieces, but I started researching thrift stores more and found that they are up to their eyeballs in clothing. Most destroy them completely if they don’t sell within a certain time period. And the act of deconstructing helps me to understand each piece/material better, understand where it’s coming from. Just like listening to a person and finding out what makes them tick. Plus, shopping at thrift stores lessens post-consumer trash and donates funds to local charities.

When did you begin teaching and what do you teach?

Even as a director/choreographer, I was teaching and didn’t call it that. But I would cast artists that were amazingly capable but needed to be challenged…that’s where the teaching came in. I started officially teaching at 20 and haven’t stopped since (I’m 32 now). I teach theatre (mask, commedia, ensemble work, team building, contact improvisation, musical theatre, stage combat), dance (all types and choreography skills) and music (songwriting and music appreciation). My theatre company, Creatively Independent, also teaches artists how to become independent in their work and their business, as well as teach people how to boost their creativity within their work (even if they’re not professional or amateur artists). My husband, Chris Beaulieu, and I teach all ages and skill levels (pre-K to professional adults). That might sound wild, but we teach to the student, so it’s no sweat for us to alter our approach depending on the age, intent or skill level. That’s part of what allows us to do so many things and be Creatively Independent.


When teaching, do you place any emphasis on green concepts?

Yes, but not in a preachy way. I feel that, with anything, if a person can’t find the benefit of it within themselves then the change isn’t going to happen. We’re all selfish people (because our self is all we have), so I don’t think it’s a bad thing for me to say this. So, when I teach or perform, I try and show how it works for me. I try and question, promote and educate so it might spark something inside them.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

Yes, the momentum and availability of information definitely fueled me. And I personally made a connection to my grandparents and great-grandparents’ way of life (which was very green)… use it until it breaks down, then fix it, then use the parts that work for something else, keep going until it’s practically scraps. Compost, grow/buy locally, run a lot of errands at once or the “while you’re in town” list, lessen chemicals in the body and the home, natural cleaners, work with nature not against it…

What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?

Natural cleaners, energy efficient appliances, less paper products (doing most things electronically), washing with cold water, hanging the wash on the line, opening windows (hardly used the a/c this year), putting a sweater on in the house (helps with the heat bill), conserving water, using my dish cloths to wash the dishes instead of disposable ones.

Tell me about your home renovation. What are some of the green products you used while remodeling?

We’re working on our 100 year old farmhouse using repurposed materials as much as possible, as well as insulating more to help with heat and air issues. It’s a blast to work with recycled glass (I’m getting into cutting old wine and beer bottles to use for stain glass installations). I think the main thing for us, is to use what we can (not just gut it and start over) as well as make sure what we have is energy efficient. We also repurpose what we’ve had to take out of the house for either craft projects (I build frames for my hand embroidered pieces with the old stairs) or for our new theater. We’re in the process of designing a black box theatre/studio, focusing on using what’s already there – shade, wind, the rise and set of the sun to heat and cool the studio. It’s exciting and challenging… but that’s where all that pre-production work comes in handy.


What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?

I think the earth is trying to balance itself (as all things do) and as humans we’ve tipped it onto one side pretty hard. I’m just trying to do what I can to balance – give back what I’ve taken. Also, I feel that the instantaneous, “gotta have it now” feeling that’s in most of our culture presently is without depth. A lot is lost by jumping right to the prize without experiencing the process of attaining the prize. For example, we don’t have a microwave anymore because we realized it was important for us to make ourselves stop working for 30-60 minutes and cook. Enjoy the smells, the act of creating the meal, cleaning up, sitting down to eat and talk about the day. We were missing all that because a microwave allowed us to zap our meal in 3 minutes and eat it practically standing up. We’ve noticed a huge improvement in our physical and mental health because of this choice and others like it. So, I guess that all goes back to what I was saying earlier, I had to find a reason why it benefited me to be able to benefit the environment.

What challenges have you had to bring eco-consciousness into your work?

Me. The challenge was my “easy outs”. I had to change, slowly but surely, my schedule, my time line, my wants/needs. Let’s put it this way… it’s easier and faster for me to buy yarn all ready to be knitted. It takes more time to find the sweater, clean it, take a part the pieces, unravel the yarn, wind it up and then knit it…. but it’s much more fun. The impact for others is greater and the impact is greater for myself. The challenge is to embrace being unique. When we do things ourselves for ourselves, each moment is unique, no one else can do exactly what you do. But we lose ourselves and our creativity when we grab the easy, the quick and the brainless… aka the pre-packaged, millions like it, the same in any city product. The challenge is to be me.

Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?

I’m a positive gal, so I’m gonna say positive influences! More access, more information, larger audience for someone’s work…love it. I’m able to have fans all over the world for my music, theatre and fiber arts. That’s amazing to me. I just have to balance within my self, how much time I spend on the Internet. I get overwhelmed with all the possibilities and then discover I haven’t created anything…ha ha ha, so I have to balance the research/inspiration with the actual creation. The Internet also allowed me to work with incredible musicians on my last album, Reveal: Viktor Krauss (Lyle Lovett, Bill Frisell), Matt Chamberlain (Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, David Bowie), Craig Barnette (Mofro, Donavon Frankenreiter) and Dan Phelps (Tori Amos). I was able to have Viktor create stunning bass and keyboard parts in his home studio in Nashville, while we were recording in Seattle with Matt in his home studio for percussion. My producer, Dan, was able to work with me via the internet, sending ideas and prodding me artistically. I could send lyric changes, and new tune ideas via my home studio. It was thrilling and an honor that they wanted to create in such an intimate way using a normally disconnected format (the internet). But it also made it possible for me to afford them as well, since I banked my own project with my alt. americana label, RoadWorm Music. I co-created it with my father, Bill Pillmore, and we have fab artists on there… please check them out.

What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about it?

With fiber arts, I’m combining knitting and crocheting right now – just finished a Rainbow baby blanket that I love and a funky tea cozy made from the edges of sweater sleeves. I’m also working on holiday fun with my sweater pieces… maybe stockings that I embroider on, ornaments… that’s later on today. In theatre, Chris and I are researching/writing a clown ensemble piece to start producing/directing this year for the festival circuit… it’s about family dynamics shown through the raw honesty and absurdity of the clown’s point of view. I’m also writing a folk rock musical with fellow label mate, Ron Morris. It’s about living in the moment and how we all struggle to own and then let go of our stories. The music is new – audio pointillism – with each song broken up into different character’s point of view to show that each moment has many variations of grey in the meaning. With teaching, Chris and I are starting to teach internationally this year, so that’s a thrill! And at home, Chris just started up a vegan/gluten free baking adventure on Etsy. So, I’ve been helping him with that, working on the repurposed cookie tins that I cover in reclaimed fabric. The house smells great!

What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?

Do your research. Be prepared. Create because you love to not because you want someone’s approval or sales. Know your needs (rent, food, bills, etc.) and reduce them if you can to allow you to work as an artist full time. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. Put a price on your time and creativity – artists can be good at math! Don’t buy the hype that you have to suffer to be an artist. You have to be open to all emotions and opportunities without judgment to be an artist – that includes happiness, joy and success. You, not others, must define your success… and I promise that definition will constantly change. Be patient, breathe and smile.


What Green Product would you recommend to our readers?

Prius, big time.

What is your best going green tip?

Baking soda can be your best friend from absorbing odors in your fridge, trash can, rugs – cleaning a clogged drain – to healing an icky boil (yucky, but true). Seriously, natural products are rad, look around/ask around and find out about baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. 🙂

How would your friends describe you?

Busy. hahaha, okay, I had to ask my friends on this one ’cause I describe myself as shy and quiet… they said collectively “silly, caring, compassionate, dedicated, busy, cute, funny, giving…” there was more but I find it hard to type without laughing uncomfortably!

Do you have a website or online presence that showcases your work?

Yes, ma’am! Here’s the list… hee hee hee
A Second Chance – Fiber Arts – Recycled Knitwear
Etsy store
Music
Myspace
Facebook
YouTube
Label
Theatre

Yes You Can! – Vegan/Gluten Free Insanely Good Treats
Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Sharon Tevault of Lucky Sustainable Designs

What happens to all of the wood that is removed from a construction site when a building is demolished or rehabilitated? That was a question on the mind of Sharon Tevault who owns Lucky Sustainable Designs based in Houston, TX and she decided it was time to do something about it! Sharon reclaims and salvages woods, some of which are difficult to find or very expensive when they are “new”, and turns them into items that are both beautiful and functional. She has a solid mind for business and was excited to share her love for the Earth and what she is doing to show it.


Can you tell us a little about what it is you do?

I make functional and decorative objects from reclaimed, salvaged, and sustainable wood.

What prompted you to start Lucky Sustainables?

I had been a hobbyist woodworker for many years, mostly designing and making furniture (desks, tables, case pieces) for myself and for friends and family. Over the years, I started using more and more reclaimed materials – wood that I found around the neighborhood or that people brought to me. A lot of times there wasn’t enough of any one species to make a piece of furniture, so I started making boxes and other smaller objects with it. My friends kept insisting, “You should sell these,” so I started doing some local art shows and selling them on-line.

Is there a story behind the name of the company?

My business name is really Lucky Sustainable Designs; I had to shorten it for my user name on Etsy. Actually, Lucky is my old Girl Scout Camp nickname (I hope that Sustainable and Designs are a bit more self-evident). I used “Lucky” because my real name is kinda hard for some people to spell and pronounce. I chose to use the word “Sustainable” in my business name so that people could get a sense of my commitment to using reclaimed, salvaged, and sustainable materials.

Where do you acquire the reclaimed wood that goes into your designs?

I’ve done my fair share of scrounging around demolition sites, and making use of broken-down furniture that has been set out by the curb for trash pick-up. Once friends and neighbors became aware of what I was doing, they began to bring a lot of wood to me. Sometimes it’s beautiful hardwood flooring that they’ve found by the curb, or some boards they found in grandma’s garage, and sometimes it’s big sections of fallen tree logs.

Why is it important to you to use salvaged pieces?

I live in an older neighborhood where a lot of people have torn down old homes and built new ones. It was unsettling to think about how much of that material – especially the old wood from the existing homes – was just going straight to the landfill. And because I have an interest in wood, I had read about some of the shameful forestry practices used to harvest many of the exotic tropical hardwoods. I recognize that in the overall scheme of things, the amount of wood I keep from the landfill is miniscule. But I also know that change only occurs when individuals make their own commitments to do so.

What types of stains and top coats do you use?

A lot of the reclaimed wood I find/acquire does not have a lot of inherent beauty – it’s wood that was not meant to be on the “show” side of a table top (think plain woods like poplar, birch, and cedar). So it’s important for me to be able to make them more visually appealing by using finishing techniques to supplement or enhance the surface of the piece. One of the most fun things for me is experimenting with natural stains and dyes made from things like walnut husks, turmeric, beets, vinegar with iron, etc. And I like to finish each piece with a durable, non-toxic topcoat, primarily using shellac (a natural finish made by lac beetles) and water-based finishes.
How do you find that natural alternatives hold up compared to synthetics?

It depends on the application. For example, I use shellac as much as I can because it’s natural and non-toxic. But the solvent for shellac is alcohol, so while I might use it as an undercoat on a table or wine stopper, it’s not the best choice for using as the final coat. It is, however, great to use as both an undercoat and a topcoat on the boxes and other items I make. Water-based finishes have really come a long way, but they probably don’t have the same level of clarity as lacquer or shellac. As far as the natural dyes, the ones that produce a chemical reaction with the tannins in the wood (for instance, the vinegar and iron) are pretty color-fast; some of the vegetable-based dyes are not great choices for outdoors because they will fade in sunlight.

What inspires you as an artist?

I love trying new things…..having an idea and figuring out how to make it happen. I also get pretty excited when I find a trove of wood destined for the trash heap that turns out to be incredibly beautiful or unique. I recognize that the people who are most successful at making items from wood are those who make “production” items; they create designs that resonate with customers and continue making those designs over and over. Some of my boxes have similar styles, but they are all a bit different; I don’t use patterns and I seldom have enough of any single type, size, or thickness of wood to make several of one thing. Maybe someday that will change, but for now, I relish the notion of doing something different every day.

When did you first start working with wood as a medium?

After I bought my first house, I started doing some minor repairs. (I had originally learned to use tools in the scene shop as a theatre major in college). At one point, I decided I wanted a side table and I couldn’t find one that met my needs; so I made one. It really turned out pretty well, for a first endeavor, and I’ve been designing and making furniture and wood objects since.


How long have you been selling your art?

I’ve done a number of commission pieces over the last several years, but I just started Lucky Sustainable Designs about two years ago.

When did you first become interested in living and working green?

My parents always emphasized reusing things, keeping the thermostat set at a moderate level, turning off lights, etc., so my interest is inherent and ongoing.

What inspires you to take care of our planet?

I like the whole notion of leaving a very light footprint.

Has any one green practice become second nature, something you personally do every day?

Probably like most of your readers, a lot of practices have become second nature to me: recycling, conserving electricity and water, minimizing fossil fuel consumption, etc. The one thing that may be a little different is my ongoing pursuit of finding and utilizing wood discarded by others.

What green practice do you recommend readers try?

Rehabilitate your old furniture instead of throwing it away.

Is there an eco-friendly product you use that you would recommend?

Shellac is an old-timey furniture finish that is eco-friendly and non-toxic (makes a great finish for kids’ toys).

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

Finding enough suitable markets for my work so that I can be self-sustaining.

What is your advice to a fellow artisan who is new to their industry?

Learn: don’t be afraid to ask questions; there may be some people who try to protect their expertise, but most of us enjoy talking about our work and are glad to help someone just starting out. Practice: you’ll likely make a lot of mistakes before you ever make anything that you’re proud of; getting better takes practice. Have fun: do what you enjoy, not just what you think will sell. Try to live with love, compassion, and kindness; especially on days when you really don’t want to.


Do you have an online presence where your work can be viewed?

Yes, my work can be viewed and purchased at Lucky Sustainable Designs and I maintain a portfolio at Trunkt. I also offer wholesale and quantity pricing for some items; the bottle stoppers are popular as client gifts or wedding favors.

Editor’s Note: Sharon also maintains a separate Online Storefront where additional items can be purchased.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Eve Marcoux of Lilith Evy in Quebec City Canada

When I came across Lilith Evy online I was tickled by the creativity of the items and how their functionality blends seamlessly with a positive planetary impact. Although we faced a mild language barrier where I speak English and Eve speaks French primarily, we were able to communicate that we are both working towards making Earth a better place to live. No matter what language a person speaks that message is clear.

I am posting Eve’s interview without edits to her responses because I do not want to mess up her quotes and truly I was smiling the entire time I read through this. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do!


Can you tell us a little about what it is you do?

I do a lot of things! Jewelry, knitting, photography, paint (acrylic and watercolor) and many more. I like to discover new type of art and try it. If I can up cycled something, then I do!

What was the motivation behind the creation of Lilith Evy?

I’ve made a lot of articles for many years and I can’t keep it for myself. A friend of mine told me about Etsy and I decided to sale some of these articles on this site. Besides, I’m a new mom and it’s a great way to express my creativity/imagination and it’s a good way to do some money while staying at home.

When did you first start creating purses out of recycled shirts?

A few months ago! I’ve seen some recycled jeans purses before and I’ve just transpose the idea on shirts sleeves. The skirt bag came from the same idea.

What is the reaction of people when they see one of your Blouse Bags?

First of all, they laugh. Not a laugh meaning “it’s ridiculous” but “how did you think of this” laugh. They are impressed by it and find it very original and exotic.

Where do you acquire the pieces that go into each design? Is it important to you to use salvaged pieces?

Must of my pieces are used and come from my personal stuff. I keep a lot of things and I reused it when I find something to do with it. When I’m in the process of creating something and I know what I need, I go ask my family and friends if they already got it (like a button, for my button necklace). It’s really important for me to use salvaged pieces. This helps our earth and my storage place :o)

When did you first learn to crochet and what motivated you to create a purse from plastic bag yarn?

I learned crochet about one year ago. When I knew I was pregnant, I wanted to knit multiple things for my baby. That’s why I have learned to knit first. As a start, I bought a knitting book containing the plastic bag project. I fell in love with the idea and it was a fantastic way to pass a lot of grocery bags that I had accumulate over the years.

Where do you acquire the bags that go into these designs?

Except the grocery bag, my mother gave me a pile of bread bags that she bought a long time ago in a baker’s factory. I love these bags! They have a great color (iridescent purple and green) and they are easy to knit. I’m working of a new plastic bag, in milk bags this time. And I’m sure that it will be a very unique creation because contrary to bread bags, they are really difficult to knit. They are thick and I even got some hand blisters.


What inspires you as an artist?

Too many things!!! I’ve a lot of pop ups that comes in my mind and I don’t really know were they come from. Nature inspires me a lot. Its odors, its sounds, its moves and all creatures that lives in it. It may seems a little bit contradictory, but my other inspiration is my love for bright colors AND black and white. I don’t know why I’m fascinated by these two very different sources, but I do!

How long have you been selling your art?

Since July 2008. It’s really new but I have prepared most of my articles in the last years and waited to reach a considerable quantity before selling it to offer greater diversity.

When did you first become interested in living and working green?

Long time ago! I remember when I was in elementary school, I wrote a text about pollution publicized in the newspapers. It scared me! After that, I started to recycle and up cycled, used clothes line, bring my coffee cup …

What inspires you to take care of our planet?

Now, my son Rémi is a good motivation! I want him to grow up and see the sun, breath pure air (at least, without oxygen demijohn) and have free water to drink.

Has any one green practice become second nature, something you personally do every day?

Recycled… I have been doing it for so long now. But there is a second one, use washable diapers.


What green practice do you recommend readers try?

Definitely try the washable diapers! Today, they are like a real diaper (no more folding), more soft for my little baby’s butt and less expensive (in long term) than disposable diapers.

Is there an eco-friendly product you use that you would recommend?

For girls only, they should afford a DIVA CUP! It’s a menstrual receptacle. Its comfortable, clean, convenient, no leak, 12 hours protection, reusable, latex/rubber free, hypoallergenic, made in medical grade silicone and there is no association with toxic shock syndrome. And besides, no more expense for tampons or pads! Only one word to say: FANTASTIC! You can have more information at www.divacup.com

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

Sold my article to let my creativity do more stuff!

What is your advice to a fellow artisan who is new to their industry?

Let your inspiration flow and persevere! It’s not easy to get trough in any kind of art.


Do you have an online presence where your work can be viewed?

Come see my work at www.lilithevy.etsy.com and enjoy it!
Thank you!

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Jessica Burko, Mixed Media Photography

Jessica Burko is a Photographer based out of the Boston area who typically works in mixed media application. In a chance encounter, we happened to meet during a concert and began talking about selling our art and where we do so. We left at the end of the show exchanging cards and when I began looking into her work knew she would be a perfect fit for an interview! In our short conversation there were many points we did not cover and I was delighted to learn that Jessica is far more eco friendly than even she originally let on.


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

Since I am self-employed, I don’t have a standard schedule, and no two days are alike. This type of calendar agrees with me because I am then open to delve into different projects on different days and work as early or as late as I need. Two standards my days however are beginning the morning with reading emails and blogs over breakfast, and ending each day with knitting on the sofa.

Who or what inspired you to become a Photographer?

I have been studying and practicing photography, working in a wet darkroom and exhibiting my photographs since I was ten years old. I began this practice at an arts summer camp in New Jersey (Appel Farm Arts and Music Center) where I spent five glorious summers taking theatre, art, and music classes. My two earliest photographic influences were Dorothea Lange and Diane Arbus.

Can you tell us a little bit about what a Mixed Media Artist does?

“Mixed-Media” is a wonderful term meaning: anything goes. It is the theory that it is OK to mix different types of art materials onto one canvas, to not be bound by traditional methods of producing visual work, and to be free to experiment with found objects and art supplies equally. Mixed media is hardly uncommon in contemporary art, but in the past it was unheard of to blend different mediums and I even had a photography Professor once tell me that I should choose to use EITHER black and white film OR color film because my work would never be taken seriously if I continued photographing with both. Currently I photograph with a variety of film sizes, colors, and transparencies. I scan my film and print with ink jets onto watercolor paper, I then combine my original photographic images with found paper, vintage photos, and other materials such as thread, wax, and wood.

What is the largest scale mixed media installation you have completed?

In graduate school I produced an installation piece that consisted of three oversized, handmade pieces of paper each measuring approximately six by eight feet. The paper was made from pulped egg cartons, pages from old journals, drawings and letters, and consumable waste (coffee grounds, onion skins, tea leaves). The paper acted as oversized book pages and bore images and text transferred from photocopies with wintergreen oil. The pages were suspended from the ceiling in a dark room in an alter-like configuration and lit with strong spotlights. It was very liberating to work at such a large scale and made me view my work and process of creativity (literally) from a new vantage point.

What mediums do you prefer to complete your work on (canvas, paper, etc)?

I create most of my mixed-media work involving wax on wood panels, either salvaged plywood or store-bought wooden canvases. The simultaneously hard and porous surface of the wood accepts wax and other adhesives well. Much of the work I have created in the past year are paper quilts that are combinations of original photographs and found papers stitched together only with thread. These pieces are fairly fragile and I have been exhibiting them framed.

How do you find beeswax holds up over the long term?

Beeswax is a great archival material to work. There is evidence as far back as 100 BCE of the ancient Egyptians painting portraits in a material called “encaustic” which is wax melted with resin, and those portraits still survive today. There is a vibrant movement of encaustic painters in contemporary art who use wax, resin, and pigments to create works that have texture, translucency, and three-dimensionality not possible using other mediums. The wax that I use in my work as a collage material and over coating is a non-pigmented encaustic that I make from pure, granular beeswax and Dimar resin. The addition of the resin insures that the wax hardens over time.

Why is it so important to go green? In what other ways do you work in an eco friendly manner?

I remember clearly a musical instrument that we made in nursery school out of an old frozen orange juice container, navy beans, tape, and paint. All my life I have loved the idea of creating instead of wasting. Collecting scraps of paper, small objects, old books, postcards, and sketches to incorporate into art is something that I have always practiced, and once I learned how to make paper I delighted in asking all my friends to save their cardboard egg cartons for me to pulp and reuse. For me the idea of “going green” with my artwork has happened fairly naturally, and the more supplies I collect for my art from what other people discard, the less expense I go through in making my work, and the more I can experiment with bringing my ideas to fruition.

Can you tell me about your creative process?

I am constantly looking, writing, photographing, and collecting. It is what I see, thoughts I put into words, images I capture, and items of detritus that I have all around me that inspire my artwork. I usually create my work in bursts, gestating an idea and collecting materials for a couple of months and then going into the studio and intensely making work for weeks on end until I have amassed a new series/collection.


What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?

My Husband and I are avid recyclers, and we have CFLs in almost every light in our home. I also read a few great tips for conserving water on a blog called “The Sietch Blog” and now I have reduced the hot water I use for showers, and when I run the sink tap to get hot water I collect the what comes out first and water the plants with it. We also have a whole collection of canvas bags that we use when shopping. Someday when we have our own house we plan to incorporate methods of conservation such as solar panels, a clothesline, and a rain collection system for garden watering.

What challenges have you had in your work?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is showing and selling my work. Making it comes naturally, and I hope someday having the work collected will come just as naturally.

Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art?

Very positive because through the internet art can be shared across continents, ideas can be discussed between artists and art historians from all over the world, and it is the most democratic way that art has ever been exhibited.

As a fine artist, what challenges have you faced by exposing your artwork to the world via the Internet?

None really, it has only been a positive experience for me. Since I first launched my own web site and have shown my work through other sites such as Etsy my work had been found by collectors, curators, publishers, journalists, arts foundations and all of these discoveries have led to getting my work exhibited, purchased, published, and written about. The exposure for the arts facilitated through the internet is very powerful and propels my work forward every day.


What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about it?

My most recent series consists of paper quilts: collages of original photographs, found papers, and vintage photographs connected by stitched thread. With each quilt I create a narrative through text from old book pages juxtaposed with photographic images and colorful patterns. I love making this work because of the endless possibilities I find as I sift through piles of collected ephemera.

What advice would you give to an artist just getting started in their industry?

Do your homework. Research galleries that are suitable for your work before sending them a submission, go see lots of art, read about art, write about your own work and the work of others. The more a young artist becomes immersed in the art world and their local arts community the more opportunities they will find and the more their work will grow.

What green product would you recommend to our readers?

Canvas and fabric bags – any kind at all! I always make sure to keep bags in the car and at least one empty bag with me at all times just in case someone tries to offer me a plastic one I can say “no thanks!” and pull out my own.

What is your best going green tip?

Changing light bulbs to CFLs. They are better for the environment because they save energy and they are GREAT for keeping the electric bill low.

Is there one green practice you do daily that has become second nature?

Using less hot water in the shower. Really hot water is not good for skin, and by keeping the tap turned down I am not wasting water, so it’s two good things rolled into one!

Do you have a website or online presence that showcases your work?

My web site and I also have an on-line shop for my work


Is your work featured in a gallery or other brick & mortar location?
My work is currently on view at New England Bio Labs through September 8th
I also have work that will be exhibited in the 15th Annual Jamaica Plain Open Studios Juried Show from September 12-18 on view at Maliotis Cultural Center.
Additionally, my work will be on view at my studio (35 Wareham Street, between Harrison and Albany Streets) during the South End Open Studios September 20-21
Also during the Jamaica Plain Open Studios September 27-28, where I will be showing at The Eliot School.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com