Category Archives: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle

Artist Spotlight: Victoria Case of Victoria Case Art Designs

Victoria Case is an Illustrator based in Las Vegas, but to say she is simply an Illustrator would grossly undervalue her work. I was more than excited to interview Victoria as I have personal experience with her creative hand, having bought a blank inside card, her new zine and a custom drawn 5×7 portrait. As an avid reader of her blog and frequent visitor to her online storefront I was thrilled to read she was championing an effort to go green through her use of materials and immediately requested an interview. Her concern for the planet has existed for many years and she was excited to share how she is making a difference through her efforts.


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

I create what would be considered “old school” artwork- I draw with an ink pen and color pencils on basic white paper.

What inspires you as an artist?

I love to illustrate the silliness of people and animals and life in general. My kids honestly are the best source for pure humor- they come up with the funniest things. Plus for a bonus- I live in Las Vegas- Sin City- so there is an array of inspiration here, as I’m sure you can imagine.

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

I am a compulsive list maker and my daily activities are written out each morning so that I don’t get sidetracked. I am drawing by 7 am and don’t usually quit until 5 pm. Then it’s family time. After the kids have gone off to bed – back to drawing until the late hours of the night. I start with rough drafts of an idea in pencil and once I’m happy with the set-up and placement- I’ll ink, erase the pencils marks and do my most favorite part….color.

I carry paper and pen always, so whenever or wherever I have an idea I can quickly jot it down- whether it be a few words or a quick rough sketch. From those sketches- I’ll decide whether it should be an illustration or a note card.

If I could give everyone in the world a coloring book and crayons, I would. It’s amazing just how relaxing it is, your breathing becomes very rhythmic, your muscles relax and it’s I guess, spiritual- to create something. If you don’t believe me, grab a coloring book and crayons and sit by yourself at a table for awhile.

How long have you selling your art?

A little over 20 years. Although my online retail has only been for six of those years.

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

Yes! My first sale was exhilarating and full of stomach butterflies. Each and every sale after that one feels exactly the same way. It is overwhelming to me when someone actually likes my work enough to purchase it. It’s the highest compliment someone can give. *smile*

What mediums have you changed over to become more Earth friendly?

I have been on the search for eco-friendly inks and pencils. I have always used recycled and/or earth friendly paper.

I also collect and re-use cardboard whenever I can find it for shipping my work. And I prefer working by natural sunlight.

How do you feel that recycled paper holds up in comparison to other papers you have used in the past?

I used to find working with recycled paper quite challenging. It always seemed to have a dingy quality to it and I would find specks and spots within the grain. Even more disheartening, it was the most expensive choice. The recycled paper that is sold today is very vibrant, smooth and although it may still have a higher price, it is always well worth the few pennies.

What does the Green Movement mean to you?

Standing up and taking responsibility for our environment/planet by educating ourselves and others and actively participating in it’s preservation. Most importantly, demanding LOUDLY to government officials and corporations for change.

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

I’d have to say that it really became a focus for me in the late 70’s early 80’s with the “Earth Day” movement. Recycling became mandatory where I lived and I bought a “compact” car. With time, I became more informed about the world around me and my impact on an every day basis- from what I purchased to what I threw away and my choices on how I live my life. Some decisions have come with no choice- for instance, due to allergies – I have to live mostly organic.

What inspires you to take care of our planet?

I could not state that I’m a loving and nurturing parent to my kids and not take care of the surroundings that will sustain them. When I look into my children’s eyes I see my grandchildren, and their children, and generations ahead. How could I not be inspired? It’s just the right thing to do.

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

Recycling of our plastics, cans, glass and newspapers. It’s a habit to carry items out to the bins.

What green practice do you recommend readers try?

We all shop. So, I would highly recommend that everyone use cloth tote/grocery bags instead of paper or plastic.

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

The Strathmore paper company has a wonderful selection of recycled papers and a new Wind Power Series paper that is eco-friendly.

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

Time management.


What has been your greatest success to date?

I have had many fantastic opportunity’s over the years, but one that stands out in my mind, is an opportunity a few years back to work with Ted Bergman. He was the writer on Sanford & Son, Three’s Company, All in The Family (just to name a few). He had written a hilarious play called “Whoops”, and hired me to create the playbill artwork. Such a funny man and writer.

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

Be passionate about your work. Have patience. Practice every day.

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

I have a website
A little shop on Etsy
and I sell periodically on eBay: vcad001
My blog

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Debby Arem of Debby Arem Designs

Debby Arem creates the most eclectic pieces out of none other than old circuit boards for her company Debby Arem Designs in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Reclaiming these pieces saves so much plastic from being placed in landfills and repurposing them into such fun Geekery has given the unique items a very well deserved second life. Debby enjoys her niche market and does very well creating everything from home goods to jewelry; even cufflinks for men! She loves the environmental impact her work has as well and had fun sharing her thoughts on all things eco friendly.


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

For close to 16 years, I’ve been committed to recycling circuit boards into useful and functional as well as decorative products. I design a line of jewelry (pins, earrings and men’s cufflinks) as well as clocks, picture frames, sun catchers and light switch plates all using recycled circuit boards as the main component. My husband works with me and we also make a line of green office products such as clipboards of all sizes (including magnetic ones), bookmarks and key chains. New products are constantly being brain stormed and added to the line such as our most recent merchant clipboard for credit cards which also doubles as a coupon holder to be used in the kitchen! We also recently introduced eyeglass or badge holders that are made out of recycled circuit boards, anodized aluminum and colored wire.

What was the motivation behind the creation of Three Ring Circuits (3RC)?

Back in 1990, my husband had a company that assembled PC’s. One day I was in the back room where these computers were being assembled and I saw a circuit board for the first time in my life. Being an artist, I was fascinated by all the gorgeous patterns of circuitry and I remember that I immediately thought “WOW, what great jewelry you could make from these things!” I was a bead artist at the time, creating designs for the Smithsonian’s museum shops and mail order catalogs as well as doing quite a bit of custom work for my own customers. But having worked with beads for about 12 years by then, I was excited at the prospect of having a new medium to work with!

Oddly enough, we had a neighbor who had a company which manufactured circuit boards. Any boards which were found to be defective had to be hauled away and destroyed by being burned or dumped in a landfill. We stepped in and acquired these circuit boards and after a lot of trial and error, found a way to cut them into interesting shapes to be used for my jewelry line.

There were also circuit boards which were prototypes and made in limited quantities to verify functionality. After two years, our neighbor’s manufacturing company was no longer obliged to keep these prototypes so once again, we were able to rescue these boards from being destroyed. The huge variety in size and color of these prototype boards fired our imagination and got us thinking about many different products that could be made from them. My husband came up with the idea for the green office products line when we realized there were so many other uses for these discarded circuit boards besides my jewelry line. Around this time, I also began designing clocks, picture frames and then light switch plates as well as Three Ring Circuits line began to really expand.

Are people surprised to learn what your items are made out of? What is their reaction?

People usually do a double take when they realize that my jewelry is made from recycled circuit boards or that the clipboard they are holding was intended to be a motherboard when manufactured. When I first began creating my recycled circuit board jewelry line in 1992 (Three Ring Circuits) people weren’t as aware as they are today of the need to recycle – we really were ahead of our time in that respect and always joke that finally the world caught up to us in terms of salvaging circuit boards (or other found objects) and repurposing them into other new and useful items. What was once met with skeptical looks and indifference, is now applauded as a great way to recycle circuit boards into new products and everyone I meet thinks it’s terrific what we do with these otherwise useless circuit boards.

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

In addition to the enormous amount of circuit boards that we acquired back in the early 1990’s, we continue to find new sources all over the United States and even Taiwan believe it or not ,who are happy to see their boards repurposed in imaginative ways. As far as my jewelry line and other decorative objects such as my clocks and picture frames, I am always searching for vintage components. I’ve also done my fair share of dumpster diving at scrap metal facilities where I’ve found all sorts of wonderful metal pieces. The phrase “What’s one man’s trash is another’s treasure” is the essence of our business!

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

The concept of our business has always been recycling and repurposing of what would otherwise be scrap material. Salvage literally means “saving” and so the word itself defines what we are all about! To be able to create art from what would otherwise become trash, just makes me feel good – not only in a creative way but in helping to promote a green way of living.
What inspires you as an artist?

I have always had the ability to see art and utility in what others might consider junk. Again, back in the early 1990’s, people didn’t quite get it when I would get all excited when we acquired a new batch of otherwise useless circuit boards. And all these circuit boards that we use weren’t just destined to be used in computers – some were to be used in radar equipment, some for telephone switches – just about anything electronic. When others were discovering old buttons and watch pieces as items to be used in art, I was seeing the potential in electronic products such as diodes, transistors, and resistors. Anything was fair game! And again for me, there’s almost nothing that matches the rush of finding a new source for scrap metal, circuit boards, or electrical components or coming up with a new product that I can make from these discarded circuit boards!

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

Everything usually starts when I see a circuit board with an interesting pattern or color. Many times the size and shape may determine what the product will ultimately become. Other times, I have a new product in mind, and then I begin my search in my studio to find recycled items that will help me create this final product. My palette may consist of vintage jewelry pieces, electronic components, brass stampings, anodized aluminum, vintage beads and colored wire. Then it’s just a matter of sitting down and designing. If I know I want to make a pin that resembles an animal or insect, I will look through all my various metal stampings to find pieces that will help create this image which will then be mounted on a recycled circuit board to create what many call mini collages.

How long have you been selling your art?

I have actually been selling my art since I was 15 years old and made earrings from beads and wire!

After graduating from college with a degree in Fine Arts, I was fortunate enough to have a number of positions within the Smithsonian Institution such as an exhibits specialist and then the matter/framer at the National Gallery of Art. I’ve always found it ironic, that many years later, I was back at the Smithsonian but as a vendor – selling my Three Ring Circuits line to the Air and Space Museums’ gift shop! During this same time period, I also sold my beaded jewelry line (which goes by the name of Beadles and uses vintage beads from the 1950’s – 1980’s) through the various Smithsonian museum shops and their mail order catalog. So I guess you could say I’ve been selling my art for a long time – but professionally for over 25 years.

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

It’s always gratifying when someone appreciates my work so from that point of view, every sale is exciting. I do vividly remember my first sale when I was 15 years old and sold a number of my earrings to a gallery in Provincetown, Mass on Cape Cod. I remember the thrill of marching into that shop and leaving with cash in my hand and a look of shock on my face! It was the first time I realized that I could create a piece of art that someone would want to buy other than a family member!

Now I think it’s almost more about seeing the look on someone’s face when they realize that I am using circuit boards in my work and of course it’s wonderful to realize that my work has caught on and so many people appreciate it .

What does the Green Movement mean to you?

It means never throwing anything away that could potentially be used for something else! And unfortunately, my studio attests to this with boxes of circuit boards waiting to be turned into something new, bins of brass stampings, boxes of vintage beads and cabochons, containers of electrical components and reels of colored wire just about everywhere you look. It’s also exciting to know that being green is now a movement which means that many people are concerned about preserving our natural environment. Our society used to be referred to as a throw-away society and to know that people are working hard to change this image and way of living is extremely gratifying to both myself and my husband.

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

The Green Movement is something that has been a part of our lives since the early 1990’s. When I saw my first circuit board and learned that so many of them were discarded I think was the pivotal moment when I realized that I could make use of these beautiful hi tech items and turn them into something other than their original intent . I realized that there was SO much trash being dumped in landfills that need not be and we made it our business to do our own part not to contribute to this disaster but recycling whatever we could at the time.


What inspires you to take care of our planet?

The thought that if we don’t, future generations are going to inherit a world that has even more air and water pollution than we have now. How can you live with yourself if you don’t?!

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

Every time I go food shopping, I bring my own bags to carry my groceries home in rather then keep on bringing home more and more plastic! And we try to remember if we’re going out to eat in a restaurant, to bring our own containers to bring home any leftovers rather than bring home a Styrofoam container.

What green practice do you recommend readers try?

My husband and I recycle all our packaging materials. We re-use padded envelopes and tissue paper. I have also approached a large local department store that sells a lot of breakable objects and they are happy to let me dumpster dive to recycle all the bubble wrap they get in on a daily basis. It gets me sick to see how many POUNDS of this stuff are thrown out each day by this one store. So I highly encourage any artist that ships their art, to try to use as much recycled packing material as they can and to seriously consider asking a local store if they can have their bubble wrap! For years I’ve also saved all wrapping paper from presents so I could re-use it -which I used to get a hard time about from my family but now I think they all see I wasn’t so crazy and I was recycling before it was even called that!

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

We use energy saving light bulbs and whenever possible, I try to use natural cleaning products like vinegar or baking soda.

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

Actually my greatest challenge, believe it or not, is putting restrictions on myself not to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week! I’m always trying to come up with new products and I spend countless hours each week promoting my work online, so to put limits on how many hours I’m going to devote to my business each day is hard for me and something I’m working on.

What has been your greatest success to date?

I have sold my work in many galleries in the U.S., Canada and even Europe, but I think that my greatest success to date has been selling my work in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum shop. Having people from all over the world come to that museum and see my work is a wonderful feeling!


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

Let your imagination run wild! I think the worst thing that an artist can do is to put restrictions on their creativity. Don’t be afraid to try something new because you never know if it’s going to work if you don’t try it.

I also know that as far as marketing is concerned, you need to get your name out there. I started out doing craft shows back in the early 1980’s and from there I branched out to selling my work in upscale department stores, art galleries and then mail order catalogs. Of course when I first began, there was no such thing as the internet but now with so many online boutiques I think that networking is of the utmost importance and contacting people and asking them to take a look at your work in hopes that they might want to carry it is necessary if you want to have a successful business and an online presence.

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

I actually have three online presences. I sell my Three Ring Circuits line on my own website where you will find my jewelry items and green office products.

I always ask though that people contact me first before placing an order as many of my items are one of a kind or may be out of stock.

I also sell my work in my Etsy shop where I sell not only what I sell on my own website, but more of the one of a kind items such as my clocks, picture frames, light switch plates, sun catchers, and eyeglass or badge holders.
I [also] sell in my DaWanda shop

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Karen Dengler of Retired Records

Karen Dengler is the owner and creator of Retired Records in Cincinnati, OH which is a company that focuses on upcycling old vinyl albums into functional home goods. The plain old bowl shapes of the past are a far cry from the inspiring and truly unique items that Karen creates. She keeps a solid focus on protecting the planet, upcycling little pieces of music history and producing house wares that are a form of sculptural art. Rock and roll.


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

I create functional art, mostly for the home, and some for the body out of recycled materials, mainly old vinyl and found or discarded objects. I have a BFA in art therapy and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. I use art as a tool for creativity it provides an outlet for me an keeps balance in my life.

What was the motivation behind the creation of Retired Records?

The motivation began two years ago, after making a bowl, from an old record. I then made a purse, I can never find one I like at the store. I prefer to have something no one else does, people started to notice mine and began to ask me to make them . After encouragement from friends and family. I opened my Etsy shop in August of 2007. I continue to see what I can create I find it exciting to make useful items out of materials that are non-traditional and would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Are people surprised to learn what your items are made out of? What is their reaction?

Most people are intrigued, and comment “Is that REALLY made from a record”, or how did you think of that? My comment is” I usually create items through experimentation, once I start creating my brain just goes on overdrive. I wake in the middle of the night dreaming of new and exciting items.

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

I have acquire a lot of my items from friends and family and well as thrift stores. I try to incorporate as much recycled material into a piece as I can. I think it makes the art more interesting.


What inspires you as an artist?

I am inspired by nature. The record label itself, specific colors will dictate a design or pattern to paint. Even an old belt will inspire a specific look for a purse, such a rock-n-roll or classic. I also love contemporary design with clean lines. My girls are also helpful in giving me their creative opinions when I am working on a project.

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

The process depends on each specific piece it changes and develops as I work. I do not always have an exact image of how it will look when I am done. If I do I usually make modifications as I work. This is why most of my items are one-of-a-kind. I use what I have then make it work into my design.

How long have you been selling your art?

About three years.


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

I remember making a purse for my daughters teacher at school, that was my first sale. I still get excited when making a sale and seeing where it will go. I have sold items all over the world from California to as far away as Norway.

What does the Green Movement mean to you?

It means helping out and doing my small part, to inspire future generations to continue to do the same.

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

I feel when I became a parent it started to mean more to me than it had previously. When you have kids you realize that you should be a good role model and practice what you preach. I also compost and have an organic herb, vegetable and butterfly garden that the family helps out with.

What inspires you to take care of our planet?

As a kid I was raised partly in the country my father has a farm in Kentucky and I always noticed that I felt better, stronger and more independent having been that environment. Playing in the fields, fishing, gardening, horseback riding and exploring. The planet is part of us, just like our own soul and we have to nurture it as it nurtures us.

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

Composting and recycling.


What green practice do you recommend readers try?

Recycling is an easy first step.

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

I use white vinegar a lot in my cleaning.

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

Making time for my work.

What has been your greatest success to date?

The creation of my wine rack.


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

Keep trying until you find something that you truly enjoy.

To view all of Karen’s amazing work please visit her online storefront Retired Records

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Erin & Gavin Thompson of Dinner Time Chimes

Dinner Time Chimes, based in Clinton, NC, is an eclectic collaborative of Erin & Gavin Thompson. Their focus is on creating functional and beautiful house wares and accessories from recycled or reclaimed items. If you have been looking for a low profile recipe stand or a funky birdhouse like no one else in the neighborhood it is likely they will have just the thing. They are known however for windchimes made from silver plate flatware and unique bases. Very fun way to repurpose!


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

I (Erin) work at home so it’s a just a few steps of a commute for me. I try to be finished up with my “real” job by the time Gavin gets home from work. Recently it’s been evenings working on remodeling our house and then to bed late. We try to spare a little time on the weekends to work on making windchimes and bird houses.

Who or what influences your work and why?

Our crafts are influenced by what we can find in thrift stores and at estate sales. People are always getting rid of what they consider “junk” but they make perfect materials for us.

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art is innate?

Someone can teach you how to hold a pencil or a brush (or in our case, how to use large machinery), but what do and make after that point is the true art.

Explain your art- what exactly is it you do? How do you describe it?

We make windchimes and other assorted goodies from silver plate silverware that we purchase at thrift stores, flea markets, auctions and the like. We also create a few birdhouse out of found objects, such as boots and cooking pots too. It’s certainly unique creations, but we like to think of them as practical things created from trash that are sure to make people smile!

When did you first become interested in working with dinnerware?

I first became interested in working with the silverware when I was in middle school. My dad saw the chimes somewhere and thought that it would something good for us to make together. On family outings to flea markets and antique stores it gave me something to look for and it taught me about “business” early on.

Who are the other members of Dinner Time Chimes?
We are a husband and wife team, Gavin and Erin.

What is it like working as a team?

It certainly makes the work go quicker!

When did you first discover your talent and artistic ability?

I’ve always loved making things with my hands and I think that stems from spending most days with my grandparents while my parents were at work. I learned so much about life, sewing, and baking for starters.

Can you tell me about your creative process?

Our creative process starts at the thrift store or estate sale when we find the silver plate. Generally when the price is reasonable that also means that the silverware is black with tarnish. After flattening, lots of polishing, and drilling the assembling begins. A random assorted of flatware with a few beads and wind chime is made!
Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

We were both raised in farming families so it comes pretty naturally to us.

What have you done to incorporate an eco-friendly approach to your house wares?

Thrift stores and gifts from family have contributed greatly to our home. I love the stories that come with the things shared by family.

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

We are relying more and more on home-grown veggies and meats. It’s quite refreshing to know exactly where everything came from.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

I’m really not into work by ‘famous’ artists, but I absolutely love creations from ordinary people such as quilts and needlepoint that were created by people many years ago.

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

It’s the only one we’ve got and it’s very important for us to take care of it. We live in the country and thus the conservation of farm lands is closest to our hearts. It’s amazing how many children don’t know that food doesn’t actually come from a grocery store!

What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?

I really like the large windchimes that we’ve created lately.

What challenges have you had in your work?
A fellow crafter on the web offered glass beads to anyone who could use them, instead of throwing them out. I was able to get them, thinking that they’d be perfect for adding some color to the windchimes. When I made the first one I was disappointed that it made it sound horrible and would barely ring. After a little trial and error I learned that the beads had to be specially suspended. Perfection! A wind chime with a little splash of color, which sounds just as wonderful as the regular chimes.

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

The internet has helped us reach customers that would have never otherwise found our wind chimes. We’ve even sent one internationally to Ireland! One thing that has worked to our advantage with non-local customers is the addition of a slide show of our windchimes with SOUND on our website. Without the sound, it’s hard to convince potential customers that silver plate spoons actually do sound great, but now they can hear for themselves.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To make people smile.

What are your long term career goals?

This craft business will probably always remain a hobby, but we hope to always enjoy it and the wonderful people we meet as a result.

What are you currently working on?

We’re working on gathering supplies to make more windchimes, in hopes of stocking up for the holidays.

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

Follow your heart and make what you love. If it feels like work, it’ll never be worth the time!

What green product would you recommend to our readers?

Vinegar + Water does wonders when you need to take down old wallpaper. It’s been a huge time saver for us while remodeling our home.

What is your best going green tip?

When it’s time to plant your garden and flower beds, ask around to see which neighbors or family members have plants that need dividing. You do them a favor, spend almost nothing and end up with a lovely yard filled with plants that you know will grow in your area!

How would your friends describe you?

I’m the crafty one of the group.

To see more of the amazing items offered by Dinner Time Chimes please visit their Online Storefront.
To listen to their windchimes in action click here.
Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight: Ron Ames, Decorative Wall Artist from Art Nous Faux

Ron Ames, Decorative Wall Artist located in Silver Springs, MD, has been completing specialty wall finishes for over twenty years, has had his work featured in numerous publications and teaches classes to students eager to learn about the world of decorative finishes and he does it all with a strong sense of our planet. When asked which photos from his website showcase an eco-friendly example of his beautiful work, Ron enthusiastically responded: “All of the work[s] shown on my site use only eco-friendly products”. With close to 100 images on his website, spanning the past twenty years of work, that is quite impressive.


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

The night before, get materials ready for next day project. Wake up at six am, meditate till seven, make lunches and breakfast for my mamacita and adolescents, brew up some coffee, sit, chat, and watch the wildlife until we are ready to leave.

Is it your personal belief that creativity, and the ability to create art, is innate?

The ability to create is not only innate, but is who and what we are. How that creativity is expressed is an individual discovery.

Who or what inspired you to become a Decorative Painter and Finisher?

Back in the mid-80’s, when I was working for a painting company, I observed another member of the crew creating a faux marble effect and I felt such an excitement seeing how it was all coming together that the very fact that I was excited made me realize I should pursue this, so I asked him for info on where I could learn some more and he turned me on to a book which had Ina and Allan Marx’s school address in the back, so for two years I commuted from Washington DC to New York to take most of her classes.

What prompted your shift from use of oil paint to latex or other Earth friendly products?

In the late 80’s to the early 90’s, I began to experience physical symptoms such as red eyes, dry skin, runny nose and headaches. My wife works in the health field and suggested that I could be allergic to the petroleum solvents in the oil paints. It was then that I started to explore the water based products using Floetrol as a glazing medium.

How do you find that water soluble products hold up compared to their oil counterparts?
There are pros and cons to each, but as the demand for environmentally friendly products increases, the quality and durability of water soluble finishes will catch up to the standard reputation of oils, if it hasn’t already done so.
How did you approach your first client with green design concepts? How long ago was that and were they immediately receptive?

In the 90’s, I began to suggest to clients that they use water soluble products mainly because I was allergic to petroleum, but many were already unhappy with the off-gassing of oils, not to mention that, because of the long wet time of oils, brushing up against the finish leaves marks that have to be fixed.

When teaching classes, how much emphasis do you place on green concepts with your students?

100% emphasis

What are some of the important green issues you feel must be emphasized to your students?

Recycle water based paints by letting the cans dry out then take them to the recycling center or donate unused paints to shelters, high schools, etc.

Do you find more students have a focus on being ecologically responsible now than say ten years ago?
Definitely!
Can you tell me about your creative process?

For me, creativity is about being in a playful mood first. Ones’ attitude or approach to the creation of something is vital. Being tense inhibits the opportunity for creative ideas to flourish. Don’t be tentative which can only come from having expectations and with that comes the fear that you may not live up to those expectations and therefore you will judge yourself as a failure. The creative process is about tuning into an energy that can’t be described, but certainly felt. Tuning into it requires letting go of preconceptions of…whatever.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

Yes

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

Recycling materials, using reusable bags for groceries, using recycled products for countertops, floors, cutting boards, kitchen cabinets, using energy star appliances, energy efficient light bulbs. We plan to purchase a hybrid vehicle in 2009.

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

Conservation and preservation of our environment begins with the understanding of conserving and preserving our selves. We can only conserve and preserve ourselves when we acknowledge that which is life giving, and when we are in touch with that, there is a natural extension of it in out external environment. As within so without.


What challenges have you had in your work?

Whatever challenges I have had in work has to do with the fundamental ability to relax and realize that there is a solution to all problems. Things get worse if my mind is in an agitated state. Solutions arise when the mind is quiet.


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

It depends on how one uses it for it to be positive or negative. For exposure, it has helped me tremendously.


What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To keep on growing in knowledge and spread the joy that I experience from doing something that I love to do.

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

I am currently working on writing a book that has to do with wood graining. Nothing much to tell at this point.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

For historical Trompe L’Oeil, definitely the Flemish Masters, the Impressionists, Joan Miro, Kandinsky, for contemporary Masters in my field, I would have to include the legendary Marx’s, William Cochran, Pascal Amblard, Pierre Finklestein, Sean Crosby, Nicole Vigini, Kaltoum Maroufi-Colle, and many more that are out there that I have not had the privilege of learning from.

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

Ask yourself: What do I want, how bad do I want it, what am I going to do to get it?

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

Benjamin Moore Aura, Milk paints, American Clay Plasters, Faux Effects products

What is your best “going green tip?
What we do today affects our tomorrow


How would your friends describe you?

Deep, eccentric, thinker

Do you have a website or online presence that showcases your work?
Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Spotlight: Susan Rodgerson, Executive/Artistic Director – Artists for Humanity

While on the hunt for green inspired artists, a building in Boston called the EpiCenter continued to show up in searches. Upon reading various articles related to this building one thing became clear, the crew that helped construct this eco-friendly structure was certainly inspired to be hands on. The EpiCenter is the headquarters of Artists for Humanity, a group of at risk youth who are offered a chance to succeed through training and job placement in various areas of art. The students took an active role in every aspect of the completion of the structure, working with AIArchitects, from design to the opening of the doors. Susan Rodgerson, the founder of Artists for Humanity and an artist herself, was excited to share additional information related to the EpiCenter and its unique design concepts as well as how much she enjoys working with the youth in Boston who create inspiring art every day. All pictures are of art created by students.


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

I’ve been working with folks at AFH for so long that my personal and professional life are one in the same in many ways. I have the great good fortune to work with folks I love and care for and want to be with. However working in the city in a very people filled and intensely creative environment, leaves me very little time to be alone in nature where I am in touch with my personal creativity and spirit. I live with a great guy in Hull, MA which is a beach town. When I am not at AFH I am probably on the beach or in the woods.

Who or what influences your work and why?

I am influenced by the spirit that has created and continues to direct the mission of AFH – because it is my fate.

Is it your personal belief that creativity, and the ability to create art, is innate?

Absolutely

Who or what inspired the construction of the EpiCenter building?

For 8 years AFH had the luxury of working in a 35,000 sq. ft warehouse loft in the Fort Point District and were spoiled by the open and light filled spaces that were constructed in the last century. The space was flooded with natural light and ventilation. We tried to replicate the space that helped to create us. And, since we were embarking on a capital campaign and going to the bother to renovate or create such a space, why wouldn’t we also think of how we could reduce our energy costs on into the future and incorporate renewable technology. I was somewhat involved in a solar project in the 80’s and was aware of the effectiveness, so seized the opportunity to make it happen.

What do you consider the most unusual aspect of the building’s construction?

When you build green – everything is important and considered. Probably the aspect folks want to hear about most is the natural ventilation system. Our cooling system is essentially designed to work like a simple attic fan. At night we open our operable windows and from 1 – 4 pm fans on the roof draw cool night air across the concrete floors, through the spaces and up an empty shaft to the roof. In the morning we close the windows and draw the shades. The night air has chilled the mass of concrete and helps to keep the building cool through the day. The system works reasonably well except when the night time temperature does not drop 10 degrees or so for a week at a time. In that case we take a sun day like we take a snow day in winter. It’s all good and we feel we have a partnership with the weather.

(Editors note: Please see this article for additional green aspects of the EpiCenter building)

Why was it so important to go green?

It is time for each and every person to take personal responsibility for living on this planet and most importantly take action and make change happen. I feel it is important that we the people do what needs to be done and not allow government to ruin our children’s future because we choose to be lazy and irresponsible.


How did you find neighboring residents and business owners responded to the construction of this structure?

Everyone that visits the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter leaves with a smile… honestly it is difficult to separate the building from the program and the program gives you such a sense of hope and inspiration. I guess the building leaves you with the feeling that a sustainable world is possible. If a grassroots organization such as Artists for Humanity, dedicated to the voice, vision and virtuosity of urban kids and the arts can build a platinum LEED building than others can too. It is just a matter of time and time is the matter indeed.


What type of artistic industries employ the youth in your organization?

At AFH we do business with all kind of industries – from designing and printing T shirts for Jasper Whites Summer Shack (a restaurant chain) and green centered designs for KEDS brand sneakers to designing a fountain made from antique plumbing parts for a local plumbing museum. We do lots of design work for other non-profits including arts organizations such as the Mass Cultural Council and the National Grant Makers in the Arts as well as local grassroots groups and young entrepreneurs. We have probably worked with nearly every type of business at one time or another.


Can you tell me about your creative process?

My creative process is one of intuition and response.


Where did your first inspiration come from?
I have always been a creative person – don’t think I have ever had a bored moment, but the highlight of my life as an artist was meeting the young people who co-founded Artists for Humanity. Something undeniable happened [in] art that time to set off the intuitive response that created AFH and the EpiCenter.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

I was greatly influenced by the green movement of the 70’s which unquestionably informed our plan to build the EpiCenter. When we began our building process in 2001 we were at the very beginning of the current movement and I guess you could say we were in the right place at the right time.


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

I practice all the basics – replaced my incandescent lights, conserve water and energy, am very conscientious about buying products with little packaging, reuse and recycle everything possible and embarrass everyone I meet to do the same.


What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?
Without it nothing else matters.


What challenges have you had in your work?

On the job training is exciting and creative but has its challenges. There have been many times when I have had to think on my feet and make lots of intuitive decisions. I like making decisions so has been great fun but a bit scary at times. The hardest part of all we have done is fundraising for a start up organization.


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

That’s a tough question. Most things are both good and bad. I’m really not sure what I think about the question beyond acknowledging that it makes designing much easier and faster and is really good for business.


What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To someday make a living selling my paintings.


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

I am currently working on dozens of things and the one I am most excited about is a feasibility study to examine the viability of an Artists for Humanity in Portland, Maine.

What are your long term career goals?

To expand the EpiCenter and employ more kids. To live a life inspired and useful until the end.


Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

My taste and admiration is very fickle and I love, love, love certain artists when I am attracted to specific things.What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?
Practice, practice, practice and you will get results and the results will inspire you to practice more.


What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

I believe in simplifying- such as using natural products like baking soda and vinegar for cleaning.


What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

I believe we need to reprogram the way we live – giving daily thought to how we live with and are dependent on nature. However, probably for most people driving our vehicles as little as possible is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint.


How would your friends describe you?
Lucky!


Please visit the Artists for Humanity website for more information on this group.

Photos © Artists for Humanity

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight — Courtney Watson Jewelry Designer, TwIsTeD Jewelry

Courtney Watson, an artist living on the south side of St. Louis, MO, is committed to recycling, repurposing and reusing some of the most unconventional items to create her one of a kind jewelry. She is a lover of all things geek and vintage and displays her passion for an eco-friendly lifestyle through her TwIsTeD Jewelry created from repurposed telephone wire.

Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

I work for a web hosting and computer networking services by day. As soon as I return home from work, I’m huddled around my laptop responding to customer convos and maintaining contact with Etsy groups I participate in such as Team EcoEtsy. I then fill orders placed throughout the day. After dinner is my creativity time. I spend these few precious hours twisting wire and designing my next pieces.

Who or what influences your work and why?

Oooh, that is a toughie! I am influenced more by the color in our world than anything else. I’ll see three cars sitting next to each other in a parking lot and fall in love with the combination of their paint colors. (:

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art is innate?

Oh not at all! I think everyone can create, but they are all inspired in different ways. For instance, my fiance’ is not interested in crafts for the most part, but designed our Wedding centerpieces out of old records. If you wish to create, you can. For some it is easier than others.

Explain your art- what exactly is it you do? How do you describe it?

I create jewelry, accessories, etc. out of found/recycled/pre-loved materials. The shop focuses on jewelry made from recycled telephone wire.

Where did your first inspiration come from?

I have no idea!

What are your long term career goals?

I love my day job, and can’t see leaving it. My dream would be to open an eco-friendly crafts shop on Main Street in my hometown.

When did you first become interested in fashion?

Childhood. My mother was so creative when she was the one buying my clothes. She loved to mix patterns and color, and I think I inherited that from her.

When did you first discover your talent and artistic ability?

I don’t think that I did. I finally listened to my mother, who always said that I had a creative heart.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

Not at first, but I am now. I started making jewelry and art from recycled telephone wire in elementary school. But, I have now made a decision to use only eco-friendly materials in projects when available.

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

At our home, we think three times before throwing something away: #1 “Can it be used in a project?”, #2 “Can it be recycled?”, #3 “Can it be composted. We hang-dry most of our laundry and drive smaller cars with good gas mileage (VW Beetle and Honda Fit).

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

A few on my “love list” would be Jackson Pollack, Basquiat, and Andy Warhol.

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

Survival! Be it animals, plants, or humans, we need to put forth an effort to survive by taking care of our planet.

Where do your ideas come from? Can you tell me about your creative process?

I carry my little digital camera and a few notebooks wherever I go. When I get an idea for a color combination or a piece, I jot it down into one of those notebooks. If I see something that inspires me, I take a photo. All of this gets tacked onto my “inspiration wall” which covers an entire wall in my office.

What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?

My TwIsTeD ReCycle necklace. This piece took a little over two weeks to complete. It is the first in a line of higher-end pieces for the shop.

What challenges have you had in your work?

Finding the time to work would be the biggest challenge. While working my day job, planning my September wedding, and blogging, it is extremely important to manage my time well.

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

Without the internet, I would not have a shop! I think it obviously brings art to people who would have never before experienced it.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To follow my heart wherever it takes me. I thrive on feedback from others, but I create for myself.

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

I am working on a new line of earrings made of recycled telephone wire and the higher-end line of necklaces for the shop. A few items have already been listed.

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

Do what you love and you’ll love doing it!

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

I LOVE these tote bags made from old t-shirts

What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

Turn off the lights during the day and open your drapes. While there is sunlight, use it!

How would your friends describe you?

Loud, goofy, and a little crazy!

Courtney Watson
Courtney has an online storefront and blog.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight Charmaine Manley Interior Decorator

Although one may not immediately think of an Interior Decorator as an artist, Charmaine Manley, of Charmaine Manley Designs out of Bend, Oregon, proves that an eye for color and balance is as applicable in creating three dimensional spaces as any other art form. Her fondness for blending the old with the new showcases her ability to provide a livable home where form follows function. When speaking with her regarding the recent renovation to her own home from dingy, paneled trailer to one recently photographed as a show home, I asked if she ever thinks green and to say she enthusiastically responded yes would be a sore understatement.


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

I’m a morning person. I start each day before dawn with strong coffee and my laptop. I spend at least 2 hours online, blogging, updating my shops, checking and sending emails, marketing, etc. Since I work from home, I incorporate household chores throughout the day as well. Currently, I’m in a strong battle with weeds…and they are winning. Then, back to the computer to research new trends and products, and get a little inspiration for the next project.

Who or what influences your work and why?

My work changes as I change, as my interests grow, so I would have to answer: life. Fifteen years ago I was focused on antiques, which led selling, which led to decorating, which led to design. Designing has been the most rewarding to me because I’m not a follower. I get the most satisfaction from creating my own work rather than copying page 18 of a popular design catalog.

Is it your personal belief that creativity, and the ability to create art, is innate?

I think every human being has the ability to create art. We all have a different perspective and, therefore, different interpretation of it though. Science is art. Math is art. Cooking is science, which is art. There are many ways to create.

Who or what inspired you to become a Designer?

A customer from one of my antiques shows admired my sale displays and asked me to consider decorating her home. That job led to others, which eventually led to design.

Are you LEED Certified? If not, is this something you would consider doing in the future?

I’m very interested in LEED certification. However, the cost of the class is currently out of my budget, so I read as much information as possible to stay current.

Why was it so important to go green?

Global Warming is very real. This is the only planet we have and this is our chance to save it. As a designer, I believe salvation begins at home. Making your home and lifestyle as green as possible…what better way to save the planet.


How did you approach your first client with green design concepts? How long ago was that and were they receptive?

My first choices for products are always green so my approach is straight- forward. Being green is my modus operandi, and it’s what I offer my clients. As long as it fits within their budget, clients are receptive. If they balk at the price, I simply suggest the next best green product instead.

Can you tell me about your creative process?

My creative process is so much a part of who I am….I dream, live and breathe design 24 hours a day. Design is my muse…it wakes me in the morning and follows me throughout the day even during mundane chores. One of my favorite quotes is from designer Billy Baldwin, “Nothing is in good taste unless it suits the way you live. What’s practical is beautiful…and suitability always overrules fashion.

Where did your first inspiration come from?

When I was a kid, my mom had a coffee table made out of an old wooden door, complete with vintage hinges and knobs. I remember the delighted laughs when guests would see if for the first time, and inevitably knock on “the door”. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of reusing items, turning something old into something new. This philosophy is the core of my design style.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

I was raised in the 70s by a mother who recycled, gardened, canned fruits and vegetables and conserved energy. This lifestyle is second nature to me.

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

I have always lived a green lifestyle. Lately, the biggest changes have come about due to the rising gas prices. We live in a semi-remote area, so driving long distances is a necessity. I consolidate my trips to town (30 miles each way) which makes for long days of running errands, but saves gas and money and reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

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

I think the most important thing is to influence the nay-sayers. Our planet is in crisis, people need to understand this and make the necessary changes to save it. Little things will make a difference. It’s one of the reasons I sell vintage goods and supplies. Items can be re-used in ways they were not originally intended. Jute webbing can be used in lieu of ribbon to make a simple chair tie, skeleton keys and clock parts can be turned into jewelry…the list is endless.


What challenges have you had in your work?

Fear of color…getting people to step outside their (design) safety zone. White is not a color, nor is it the only trick to make a room look larger. Telling people this isn’t enough, they need to be shown. Unfortunately, they are often unwilling to make the leap of faith and take chances.

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

Positive…definitely. I see more art online than I’ve ever seen in a museum. The Internet has made art accessible to everyone. For my business, it has made research a breeze. I can find just about everything I need online.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To be happy with my creations, whatever they may be, and to never stop learning.

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

My current project is personal…for the last year my husband and I have been remodeling our home. Last summer we bought a five-acre piece of property in the High Desert of Central Oregon. With our budget, buying this much land in the most expensive part of the state necessitated a low cost home…a 1980 double-wide trailer.

There was no beauty in this home. None.

This project has been my biggest design challenge to date. We gutted the entire inside…salvaging and donating items to the Habitat for Humanity resale shop, recycling wood and scrap metal as we went along. We tore out the cardboard and plastic ceilings, rewired and re-plumbed where necessary. We hired a crew to sheetrock over the nasty paneling and then I coated the walls and ceiling with both low VOC (Devine) and no VOC (Yolo) paints. We ripped out the germ riddled plush carpeting and laid Eco-Timber solid bamboo flooring (using a non-toxic glue) throughout the entire house. We tore out (and recycled) aluminum slider windows, replacing them with energy efficient ones. We repurposed antique furniture into a vanity sink cabinet and linen closets rather than buying new pieces. The kitchen cabinets were purchased from a company who offered a green line of cabinetry. Paperstone (countertops made using 100% recycled paper and a non-toxic resin) was installed in the kitchen. Ten of the light fixtures we installed were found at second hand stores or purchased off Craigslist. We salvaged, reused and repurposed many items making our remodel as green as we could afford, and as beautiful as possible.

What are your long-term career goals?

Right now, both designing and reselling vintage items are a good fit for me. However, I don’t see this long term. I’ll see what life has to offer.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

Historically, my favorite artist is Leonardo da Vinci. His versatility and mastery in so many different areas: painting, sculpting, engineering, science and math, architecture, etc. was astounding; truly an inspiration.

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

Never stop learning. It will open your eyes to multitudes of design ideas.

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

Paperstone (Countertops made with 100% recycled paper)


What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

Shopping locally. It keeps money in the local economy, which in turn creates jobs, promotes community development by creating charming, walk-able town centers which reduces urban sprawl, pollution, traffic, etc.

How would your friends describe you?

Creative, innovative and loyal.

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

Currently my online presence consists of my Etsy shop High Desert Diva where I sell small vintage items, High Desert Supplies where I sell vintage and new supplies for assemblage art, and my blog. I plan to have a design website within a year.

Photographs 1, 3, 4, 6 & 7 courtesy of Donna Pizzi and Philip Clayton Thompson of Blackstone Edge

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight Genevieve Hamilton of ECO Gift Bags — Gift Wrap Designer

Genevieve Hamilton of ECO Gift Bags, based out of Waterloo Canada, creates custom gift bags with a distinct twist — they are all made from fabric. Her reversible gift bags are a big hit with recipients as well as Mother Earth as she is saving tons of trash from being placed in the landfills and doing it all with a strong level of style.

Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

Since I am a stay-home mum my personal and professional lives are rather intertwined. I don’t get started on “work” until after the kids are in bed. At that point I try and get as much accomplished, in terms of my gift bags, as possible. I generally focus on one aspect of production in any given evening. Some evenings are devoted to matching and cutting fabric. Other evenings are devoted to sewing. While others still are devoted to organizing my bags and doing paper work. So, depending on where I am in my production will determine what my evening is spent doing.

Who or what influences your work and why?

My family definitely influences my work. My husband and children are huge factors in my life, so they have an influence on almost everything I do. The environment also influences my work. I want to help protect and save the environment as much as possible. One of the big factors in helping the environment is that I want my children to be able to grow up and enjoy the world. There are so many little things that we can do to help. I just want to do my part.

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art is innate?

I definitely believe that creativity and the ability to create art are somewhat innate. I do think that some people are able to produce art and enjoy art much more easily and naturally than others. At the same time, I also believe that if you have a strong interest in being creative or artistic you can succeed in that even if you have to work at it.

Explain your art- what exactly is it you do? How do you describe it?

I create reusable, reversible fabric gift bags. I make it my job to create bags that people will want to use over and over again. I chose fabrics in a variety of styles and colors and coordinate them with each other. I also select a complimentary ribbon to be used with the bag with either fabric. I strive to create something that will be used and enjoyed for years.

Where did your first inspiration come from?

My first inspiration actually came from my mum. She had been reading about environmentally friendly ways to celebrate the holidays and came across some information on fabric gift bags. I thought they were a wonderful idea and took them a step further by making them reversible.

When did you first discover your talent and artistic ability?

I first discovered my talent for sewing in grade 7 home economics. I won the Home Ec. award that year. I have enjoyed sewing ever since.

When did you first become interested in fabric?

I have been interested in fabric since I was a child. My mum used to sew a lot when I was young and so I got interested in sewing at an early age. Sewing and fabric are, obviously, very close companions. I have also always had a strong association with my sense of touch. I love to see how different things feel. Fabric is a wonderful medium to stimulate the sense of touch.

How did you make a connection between fabric and gift wrap?

(see above – first inspiration)

Why reversible bags?

I decided to make my bags reversible for a couple of reasons. The first is that I thought that a reversible bag could be used much more often than a single sided bag. I have already used several of my bags this year and I plan on using all of them again at Christmas. Being able to use the bags multiple times a year makes them that much more environmentally friendly. Another reason I went with reversible bags is because I hadn’t seen them before. I thought it was a neat twist to the single sided bag. Another benefit in the reversible bag is that it’s twice as strong, since it’s two layers of fabric instead of one.

How do people respond to receiving a gift in one of your bags?

They love it! All of our families received their gifts last Christmas in a reversible bag. Everyone thought they were great. I’m expecting them to use their bags this year to give their gifts in. It’s a fun way to wrap too!

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

Definitely. We have been trying to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle for several years now. I think the Green Movement has made environmental choices more mainstream, which means more of the general public are open to Green choices. Wrapping paper is a huge waste each year, creating tons of paper waste. I figured these bags would make it easy for people to use a little bit less paper each year and feel good about it.

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

We try and do several things in our day to day life to facilitate going green. We turn off lights when not necessary, we have our thermostat set high in the summer and low in the winter, we compost, we have a vegetable garden, we use cloth diapers, we do at least one meatless meal a week, we try and bike or walk instead of taking the car, we only have one little car, we run our dishwasher in off hours, we hang our clothes outside to dry, we try and buy local, and of course we use fabric bags to wrap our gifts in instead of paper.

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

I think the most important thing to me about conserving the environment is our future and what the world will be like for our children. I want my kids to be able to play outside and enjoy nature. I don’t want to have to worry about smog and air pollution, poor water, contaminated food. I want to grow old and see my kids grow in a healthy environment.

Where do your ideas come from? Can you tell me about your creative process?

Most of my ideas come from my surroundings. The process of making the gift bag starts with the fabric. I try and provide a variety of options for different tastes and stages of life (from babies to adult). Once the first fabric is chosen I select a coordinating second fabric. Then the ribbon is chosen. Once those choices have been made the bag is sewn and ready to go.

What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?

I’d have to say my favorite work so far is my first bag. I was so excited when I had finished making the first bag it was a little silly. I was very pleased with myself for coming up with the reversible fabric and the special pass-thru that allows the ribbon to be used on both sides of the bag.

What challenges have you had in your work?

The biggest challenge for me at the moment is just finding enough time to fit everything in. As I said, I am a stay-at-home mum so fitting in time to make my bags can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. There really aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes.

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

I believe that in general the internet has a positive influence on art. It allows a much broader view of life. It provides access to a greater supply of inspiration. The internet affects my work by allowing me to do research, sales and wonderful things like this interview. It allows me to connect with people and places that I would otherwise have not contact with.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

I think my greatest ambition as an artist is just to create products that people enjoy.

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

I am currently working on creating two new lines. One is a gift tag line to go with the bags. I am hoping to provide a variety of fabric tags that, along with the bags, can be used and reused for years. I’m also looking into creating a Greener line of bags that would be made from organic cotton.

What are your long term career goals?

I would like to continue to sew and make bags. I hope to sell 500 bags by 2010. Every bag that someone uses means less paper in the landfills.

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

Don’t give up. I think that gets said a lot, but sometimes you need to hear it more then once for it to sink in. If you love what you are doing and you believe in it and yourself, things will work out.

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

I must recommend these wonderful gift bags! 😉

What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

Use a solar clothes dryer.

How would your friends describe you?

I think my friends would describe me as fun, hard working, motherly, earthy, sarcastic, dependable.

Do you have an online presence where people can see your gift bags?

Yes! You can view and buy my gift bags online at ECO Gift Bags

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight Wendy Smith of Pook and Thy – Fashion Designer for Big and Little Ladies

Wendy Smith owns and operates Pook and Thy, an eco conscious company based in Toronto who creates handbags, scarves and children’s dresses from repurposed fabrics. Her pieces are stylish and functional — perfect for career ladies, active girls, moms on the go and anyone in between. Wendy will upcycle vintage linens, placemats or even thrift store items to create her pieces. It is her ingenuity for transforming those fabrics into something new that leaves her customers with such uber-cool designs.

Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

Busy! Wake up, wake the 3 year old up, get ready for work, get little man dressed, pack lunch, husband drops off little one at daycare, take GO train to work (sleep), walk to office with coffee in tow, arrive at work, talk on phone ALL day – some days more intense than others with suicidal intervention on the more intense days, break and lunch with the most intelligent and jovial group of 4 friends ever, home on train, dinner, laundry, bedtime for little one, maybe clean a bathroom, and FINALLY sew, sew, sew!!!

Who or what influences your work and why?

Colour and texture everywhere. I love the classic look, vintage, Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, classic plaid, houndstooth, brocade, damask, cashmere twin sets. I think I was really born in the wrong decade! I notice design concepts and pairings of colour/texture all around. I work in downtown Toronto and while I ride the GO transit love to people watch on my way to work. Today I saw a lady wearing a petal pink sheer blouse trimmed in nude/taupe stretchy lace, so feminine. I fell asleep on the train and dreamed about how I could incorporate that same effect in a purse.

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art is innate?

I believe everyone has an innate creative energy. Some tap more into it, some don’t. Some are being creative and they don’t even know it. The simple art of effective communication is a craft in itself, as is empathy and leaving your mark on the world in a simple yet meaningful way. It’s all in perception and in expressing your passion in some form or another. We are all artists, some just more obvious than others.

Explain your art- what exactly is it you do? How do you describe it?

I sew. I like to incorporate colour and texture in classic and simple yet functional designs.


Where did your first inspiration come from?

It’s so hard to remember that far back. When I was little I did not enjoy sports at all. I was not athletic to begin so that didn’t help either. I think my first inspiration came from books because one of the earliest craft projects that I can remember creating was a pop out book about a little chick hatching from an egg. I was also always very industrious and loved to create things out of stuff that was lying around. When I was about eight I made a bikini out of plastic grocery bags and masking tape. When I was really little (and clueless) I started making a necklace out of Mom’s discarded cardboard tampon applicators, until she discovered me in the bathroom and figured out what I was up to. I remember being really disappointed and confused because she was always so supportive of my craft projects.

What are your long term career goals?

I really don’t know at this point. I have a lot of things on my plate and might even like to return to school one day too for either fine art or psychology, but ultimately I would like to be at home in my studio for more time during the week. The fine art avenue might help to broaden my artistic horizons, while practicing as a therapist would allow me to make my own hours. It’s so hard to say. I’ll probably just continue in my present career as an RN but eventually scale back on the hours to create more time to sew. I would also like to add to my family… a little girl would be great to sew for, LOL.

When did you first become interested in fashion?

With growing confidence and maturity… When I was young I was completely insecure about body image and tended towards the trends. I so wish to this day that I had the confidence back then to execute the classic and vintage sense of style that I love today.

When did you first discover your talent and artistic ability?

From a VERY young age…my mother bought me a Holly Hobby sewing machine when I was 4. After it broke down endless times and after about 4 replacements from the manufacturer later, she finally gave up and taught me how to sew on her vintage singer from the 1960s. This was pivotal and I’ve never looked back. My earliest projects were doll’s clothes, pillows and I can’t remember what else. I started Saturday morning pottery classes in grade 4 and with my mother’s encouragement started attending a sleep away visual arts camp for 10 days each spring starting in grade 5 until grade 12. The camp was AMAZING and set up in studio format with everything from sculpture, to drama, to stained glass classes. You could pick a major and minor each year and usually for me it was pottery and fibre arts. On the last day at camp when the parents would arrive to pick us up, there would be an enormous art show. It became apparent that I had some talent when some of the camp visitors were interested in buying my pieces on show day.


Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

Probably not in the sense that it was always something that was just normal in our family. My grandmother used to compost, wash and reuse milkbags, rescue discarded furniture from the curb to repair and reupholster and with my own mother falling suit. Granny basically invented the adage “reduce, reuse, recycle”. She and Mom could reuse a teeny square of plastic wrap about 102 times. We were always amazed at how Granny and Mom would NEVER let any food go to waste. Once we went camping and Granny insisted on drinking the milk which we had kept on dry ice and after a while became infused with a not so pleasant chemical smell and taste. *gag*

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

It’s a constant work in progress…buying local produce, traveling on the commuter train to work each day, using the dryer less and hanging the clothes to dry, replacing all the windows, switching to more energy efficient light-bulbs, composting – even diapers in our city, recycling, shopping in second hand and thrift stores – especially for children’s clothing, toys, fabric and more fabric, donating old wares to second hand stores instead of just tossing into the garbage, reusable coffee mugs, packing lunches for work in reusable containers, natural lawn care, committing to buying more handmade and making more gifts myself. I am a die-hard vintage sewing machine fanatic and own 7 Singers from the 1940s through to the 1970s. I swear by these old standbys for all of my sewing projects. I can’t believe some of the crappy plastic machines that are on the market these days. It’s embarrassing really and of course just landfill waiting to happen. Why not pick up an old beauty from the second hand store for $35, have it serviced if you need to and then voila, pass it down to the grandchildren?


Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

My Grandfather is a self-taught famed Canadian author. His prose is like poetry in his depiction of story set in nature across the great Canadian landscape. I also particularly admire my Mother and Father for their talents. Mom sews and does classic rug hooking from recycled woollens. Dad is a kick ass woodworker – he’s even turned a four poster bed!

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

This is pretty simple really, saving our planet for generations to come. Knowing that my son’s grandchildren will be able to still swim in the lake up at the cottage one day.

Where do your ideas come from? Can you tell me about your creative process?

My ideas come from all around me, particularly in terms of colour combinations. Also I love the thrill of the hunt when it comes to searching for vintage supplies. I see something old and still beautiful and want to create something new and pretty out of it immediately. I can’t believe some of the gorgeous tablecloths I come across in the thrift shops. They make the best purses. I like buying most of my supplies from thrift stores because the items are so unique and vintage fabric in particular can be so classic and never outdated. My creative process is much like giving birth, it’s a struggle towards the ultimate goal and once the process is complete, the outcome is always a surprise to some degree.

What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?

I think it would have to be my first tablecloth purse – the Turquoise and Olive Houndstooth purse. The colours in this purse ended up working so well together and I almost didn’t buy the tablecloth in the first place.

What challenges have you had in your work?

Time, (because I also have a full-time job) and broken needles, also a little boy who is constantly interrupting me saying: “Mommy will you pay wif me?” (which suits me just fine because he is my heart).

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

I think it’s wonderful and I have met so many great artisans through one particular website – Etsy. Many of us have so much in common on top of the passion for our individual craft. Without the internet, we never would have met. We learn from each other on so many levels and the creative energy is most inspiring. In terms of a negative influence, it does open up the floodgates for outright copying and stealing of ideas. What bothers me most is seeing something that was once handmade being mass-produced and then sold by mega corporations for dirt cheap.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To still enjoy what I am doing when I retire and to have more time to do it.

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

I have rediscovered crocheting and I am working on little wristlets out of cut up T-shirts. What I’d really like to do is start to make paper out of all our junk mail – drives me crazy!

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

Follow your heart if this is your passion and go nuts! If you are passionate about what you do it is contagious. Creating, art, working with your hands requires patience, dedication, and revision over and over again. Whatever you envision in your head will never turn out how you picture it in and will usually take about 1000 times longer to complete compared to what you have estimated. Don’t undersell your talent.


What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

I would in fact to turn this question around and ask others what green product(s) they could recommend to me – especially for housecleaning!

What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

Definitely turning down the heating and air-conditioning and using these sparingly.

How would your friends describe you?

Maximus Interuptus is one of nicknames. Among close friends I will interrupt any conversation in progress to jump in and add something hilarious, often part of a song. My friends would describe me though as kind, gentle hearted, loyal and definitely wacky in the funny sense, oh and I would insist that they also describe me as intelligent, LOL.

More of Wendy’s pieces can be seen in her online storefront.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight Judit Gueth of Judit Gueth Designs – Wallcovering Designer

Judit Gueth is a wallcovering artist based in Toronto Canada who has her paper featured not only online but also at Walnut Wallpaper, a brick and Mortar shop in Los Angeles, CA. Her designs are bold, yet flow delicately in their repeat just as in nature. Judit is fully committed to living and working a green lifestyle and was excited to get the word out that a desire for sophisticated style can blend seamlessly with eco-friendly materials.
Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

I love to go out on the deck first thing in the morning and do some stretching. We have a beautiful yard with apple trees and grapes, and the air seems so fresh at that time. After having breakfast with Ed (my common law husband of ten years) I sit down in front of the computer and check my email accounts and a few design blogs to see what’s new. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of sales calls, because I decided to do my own selling in my home town. It’s definitely not an easy task. Otherwise, I talk to manufacturers, suppliers, customers, look for new venues, do paperwork, and when I have a bit of time, I also do some artwork.

Who or what influences your work and why?

My work is influenced by nature, trends, people around me, my state of mind and my mood.

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art is innate?

I read somewhere, that all children are artists. When we grow up, we drift away from expressing ourselves visually, and focus on other things. I definitely think that to some people drawing comes more naturally, than to others, but I truly believe, that even if you have that talent, you’ll have to work hard to achieve your goals.

Explain your art- what exactly is it you do? How do you describe it?

I design wallpaper and rugs, and also create surface pattern for various use. Initially, I studied illustration in college and worked as a graphic designer on several projects including packaging design, web graphics and different marketing materials. Before designing rugs and wallpaper, I had my own fabric greeting card line called “Pretty in Print”.

Where did your first inspiration come from?

I used to work for a children’s clothing company as a graphic designer. At this company we created all kinds of allover patterns for babies’ sleepwear and playwear. This is where I first learned about surface design. I figured, I could do this with other things than bears and bunnies, so I started creating floral and geometric patterns. I found it exciting and challenging, like creating a puzzle. I became obsessed instantly.

When did you first discover your talent and artistic ability?

I always loved drawing and painting, and also colouring. I had tons of colouring books when I was a kid, and I was always so excited to get new paints and pencils. I painted on paper, dinner plates, and eventually on my walls. I loved drawing dresses for paper dolls. My grandmother thought I would become a fashion designer one day. I’m not so good with the sewing part, so it never happened. My Mom worked as a Geography and Biology teacher, and got her first job in a tiny school. They didn’t have an art teacher, and since she loved art she got all the books, trained herself and started teaching art classes as well. I was always excited to work with her when she was preparing for various projects for her class.

When did you first become interested in creating wallcoverings?

I guess it was a natural progression for me. When I first started designing pattern, I wanted to print my work on fabric for fashion tops. I did a lot of research and it just didn’t seem feasible. After that I started printing on fabric using my ink jet, and made greeting cards out of it. They were really neat, but I needed a more viable business, and that’s when I came up with the idea of designing rugs and wallpaper.

Can you tell me about your creative process?

First of all, I have to have an idea or an image for a design in my head. Usually, I draw out the elements of my pattern on paper. I scan the artwork into the computer, and redraw it in Illustrator. Once I have all the elements, I start working on the repeat, and finally on different colour variations. I love this part of the process. It’s interesting to see how different colour combinations change the feel of the pattern completely.

Where do you find inspiration for your patterns?

Inspiration comes from a lot of different places. Nature, especially flowers, plants and insects, fashion, Hungarian folk art, the psychedelic patterns of the 60’s and 70’s, art movements, like Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Do you hand draw all of your designs?

Yes, I hand draw all the motifs of my designs first, then I scan them into the computer and redraw them in Illustrator.

What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?

One of my favourite images is the Mermaid face, which was originally created as a business card for a hairdresser, but that client backed out before seeing it, and the other one is the Koi fish pattern, which was based on a project for my surface design class in school.


What sets your wallcovering components apart from others on the market? How are they Earth friendly?

Bold, illustrative or abstract patterns, clean lines and interesting colour combinations characterize my wallpaper designs. The paper is printed on a smooth substrate, that has a lot of the qualities of conventional non-wovens, but contains 50% less synthetic fibre, therefore decomposes twice as fast. The wallpaper contains no vinyl, therefore it’s breathable, and doesn’t contribute to VOCs and to the buildup of mold. The water soluble top coat further contributes to its breathable quality.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

I was brought up to respect our environment, and I was taught about endangered plants and animals at an early age, so I always had that background, but I do agree with the Green Movement, that all of our actions have a global impact, and we have to think of long term consequences as well as short ones.

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

Growing up in Europe, I was taught to turn off lights and conserve water, and when I came to Canada I was surprised to see how wasteful people can be here. I’m big on recycling, and recycle even the smallest scrap of paper. I also save glass jars, and keep them for storing leftovers in the fridge, or dried beans and spices. For cleaning, I use baking soda and vinegar, and we have a composter in the garden. We also started buying natural personal care products. Ed is passionate about renewable energy, and he charges a large battery every day using a solar panel. He is on the waiting list for the Volt.

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

I always thought that all creatures and plants have the right to live on this Earth. For me conserving untouched areas, that provides habitat for several species is extremely important. It always makes me sad to see, that we’re gradually taking away land and leave all the animals that used to live there confused, and without enough food. I think educating people from an early age about respecting nature, not littering, not being cruel to animals, recycling, disposing of hazardous household waste in a safe manner, and not wasting resources is crucial to the preservation of our environment.

What challenges have you had in your work?

When you’re an illustrator or designer, you feel like you’re constantly running into difficulties (right from the start, when you decide to go to an art school). At this point I find selling my products the most challenging part of business.

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

The Internet definitely brings us new possibilities and a lot of exposure. It had a positive influence on my business, because it enabled me to show my work to anybody anywhere in the world. I can also search possible venues and competitors, do research and receive interview requests 🙂 with the help of the Internet. It is a double edged sword though. Artwork posted on the Internet can be easy prey for people looking to steal images.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

Being successful as a designer.

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

I’m working on new rug designs, and some wallpaper designs as well as on a few new patterns.

What are your long term career goals?

I’d like to eventually own retail space to showcase my products. Also, I want to created decorative pattern for a variety of objects, like pillows, stationery and more!

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

I admire Emilio Pucci, an Italian fashion designer for his bold, colourful patterns, and Florence Broadhurst, and Australian wallpaper manufacturer for her timeless wallpaper designs.

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

Never stop learning, and have confidence in yourself.

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

Recently, I tried the products of 100% Pure a cosmetics company in California. Their body scrubs are amazing! Their products are all natural and vegan. It’s definitely a treat!

What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

I haven’t been eating read meat or chicken for years now (I do eat some fish and seafood), so usually we don’t go to the meat section of the store, which makes shopping much easier – I definitely recommend trying that. Taking your own bags when you shop is a really good idea. It reduces plastic bag clutter tremendously.

How would your friends describe you?

Fun, caring…some think “I have balls”. I think I’m just crazy.

Do you have an online presence such as a website or blog?

Yes, my website is Judit Gueth
and my blog is Pretty Stylish
Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Artist Spotlight Kate Campbell of ECOKate — Fiber Artist

Kate Campbell is a Fiber Artist based in Highland Park, NJ who prioritizes a green way of life in both her personal and professional endeavors. Her creative ingenuity is reflected in her use of recycled cotton yarn as well as her own specially created yarn made out of plastic shopping bags. Now that is something fish everywhere can be happy about!


Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

Nothing too out of the ordinary. I get up and practically pounce on the Internet to see what’s going on in the world and with my shops. Coffee and breakfast are consumed when desired, and then I get right to work, as I currently work from home. I have a stable job working on websites and then I have my handmade items for sale, which I’m constantly promoting online. I wait until after the regular working hours to pick up my needles or crochet hook to get started on one piece or another. This is usually done while watching David Attenborough documentaries on nature, which I’m currently obsessed with. More eating and exercise are thrown into the mix whenever I can get to them. And then I pick up one of literally 6 books I’m simultaneously reading and get settled into bed with it.

Who or what influences your work and why?

My main influence is concern for the future of the planet combined with practicality. I want to make things that are good for the earth, but I understand that not everyone realizes just how important that is, or has the money and time to devote to the cause. I believe I’m helping by making these earth-friendly products available to consumers, and by making consumers aware that there are other options out there aside from the more consumptive or destructive products that are mainstream.

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art is innate?

Perhaps the desire to create itself is innate, but it requires learning and devotion on an individual’s part, in order to do anything with that innate creativity.

Explain your art- what exactly is it you do? How do you describe it?

I’m big on fiber! I use self-taught knitting and crocheting methods and a plethora of materials for my creations. I especially love using recycled materials whenever it’s practical and they are available to me. Plastic bags are one of those materials, which I have saved up, and receive from others as well. I turn them into links of yarn and then knit or crochet them into handbags usually. I have a few sources where I can get recycled yarn from as well. This is yarn that’s unraveled form old sweaters and such. It’s a great way to reuse those items and turn them into wholly new and different creations! With recycled and other types of yarn, I will make accessories like scarves and wrist warmers, or useful items like phone and ipod cozies, washable and reusable dish cloths, key fobs, even jewelry! The sky is the limit. Whatever comes to mind I’ll attempt to make. I’ve constantly got a number of projects going on at once.


When did you first become interested in creating fiber art?

About 4 years ago when I started college, and had down time during winter break, I decided to see if I couldn’t teach myself how to knit. This seemed especially appealing because I was living on my own and had no television, so knitting would be my entertainment in a way. Once I started, I realized how much I adored it, and so have been knitting frantically ever since.

What was the inspiration behind using plastic bags in your crocheted pieces?

I stumbled upon a tutorial for how to make plastic bag yarn online. I’m not even sure where I found it. But I immediately fell in love with the idea. I whipped myself up a few balls of yarn worth of it, and took an old knitting pattern I’d used before and made an adaptation of a purse with it.

Do you carry one of your handbags? What type of reaction do you get when describing the material?

I kept the first plastic bag purse for myself and am constantly receiving comments on how neat it is, people wanting to touch it and not even realizing it’s made out of plastic bags until I tell them. They’re usually very shocked and impressed with that last fact, and that always makes me feel good, and reinforces my desire to make more of these suckers!

When did you first discover your talent and artistic ability?

Honestly, as a child as much as I had a desire to create, I never picked up anything I really dug or stuck to. It took me into my 20s to take up knitting on a whim and discover my love for it. Even then, I had to stick to structured knitting and following other people’s patterns before I realized I would much rather come up with my own designs and creations…things that were truly mine.

Where did your first inspiration come from?

I’d be lying if I told you I could even remember what my first inspiration was!

Can you tell me about your creative process?

Oddly, the time when I’m drifting off to sleep or slowly waking up from it are fertile grounds for the ideas I come up with. My mind, I suppose, is churning with thoughts of what I must or would like to do, and it throws out some great ideas that, if I was more conscious, I probably would have been too cluster-brained to come up with. From there I will write my ideas down in a little mole skin journal I have devoted to patterns I come up with. I’ll sketch the item if I feel the need, and then just go at it, writing down what I’ve done along the way, and making revisions as I see fit. It can take a few tries to get things right this way, but it’s all part of the process.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

Surely the methods and ideas that I’ve heard of through the green movement have influenced my own ideas about what types of creations I can make that could have less of an impact on the earth.

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

I fork out a little extra money every month in order to receive energy from sustainable sources in my home, where I also currently work and create. I buy local and organic when possible and practical. I drive as little as possible. Luckily I am located in a town that is pedestrian-friendly. Reusing whenever possible and recycling are huge with me. I’ll just save things up instead of throwing them out, even if I have no current idea of how to reuse them. I only buy earth-friendly cleaning products for my home and my own body. The list goes on. I know I’m not 100% green but I believe every thing I do makes a difference in one form or another.

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

I’ve learned enough to realize that eco systems are fragile entities and they need to be preserved in order to continue functioning. Whether we like it or not, we’re dependent on ecosystems in more ways than we can name, hence the importance of maintaining them.

What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?

A chain link scarf I created based on the request of a friend. She came up with the concept, requesting that I make her one, and I came up with the pattern! I made one for practice and a second for her. Here’s the first one I made:


What challenges have you had in your work?

I always hit creative bumps as well as technical bumps along the way. Certain things I’d like to do involve new techniques to be learned that take time and effort on my part, especially because I have to figure them out for myself. Then there’s always the challenge of trying to make new, original pieces.

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

I believe it’s a positive influence. I love that people can share their work freely online and be inspired by what others have done. I in turn find a great amount of inspiration from what I’ve seen online.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To constantly come up with new ideas and creations that I can be proud of, and that others will admire as well.

What are your long term career goals?

I wish I could say they were simply to devote all my time and energy to my craft, but unless things seem more promising economically, my goals are more oriented to finding a 9-5 job (I just graduated), preferably one having to do with environmental conservation and advocacy.

What are you currently working on?

I’m getting married in August. Instead of carrying a freshly cut bouquet of flowers, I wanted to make my own bouquet out of old articles of clothing and other objects that could be upcycled. Still trying to figure out how to make this happen, but I’m hopeful that it’ll turn out great! I’m also working on a plastic bag purse for my future MIL who gave me a lot of her saved up shopping bags to use for it.


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

Be open-minded and consider any and everything as grounds for inspiration.

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

Simple Green is great for cleaning around the house!

What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

Renewable energy is so easy for a lot more people to come by nowadays that it’s worth switching to it at home and perhaps even at the work place. It’s barely any more expensive than what you’re currently using in your homes when they’re powered by dirtier, finite and risky sources of energy. Here’s a great website I have shared on occasion where you can go to find out if there is sustainable energy available near you.

How would your friends describe you?

Nice, goofy and independent.

Do you have a website or online presence where people can view your work?

I have my eco shop
And I also have a blog

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com