Almost year ago, I was published in "In Her Studio" magazine and I wanted to share the article here because there's been a good amount of time between the publishing date and exclusive content window. You can find it her now, on the Lady & Lion Co. blog so please enjoy. I dive into my story and how I view craft.
I was 21, and I had just lost my job and all my hair. Every. Last. Strand. I needed to come up with $800 for rent and utilities and in less than ten days. I had a block of cheese, flour tortillas, a box of lipton tea, and $37 to my name. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I was tired. I was living in Seattle at the time, and this was the eleventh job I had gone through in two years. I couldn’t stand the thought of searching for another. It was a Friday, and despite my instinct to stay in bed and not leave my apartment for days, I decided to go to the hobby store. The night before I had a dream, (or a thought, I don’t remember because it was a time in my life where I felt asleep most of the time) In my dream, I had made these dream catchers and in the center was a beaded constellation. In the morning I applied my zodiac obsession to the idea, and I felt surprisingly motivated to make them. My cart at the craft store consisted of beads, trim ribbon, feathers, metal rings, and I had some jewelry wire and various scrap material that I never used back at home. I set up a studio on my kitchen island, and it was there I made twelve dream catchers, each being an individual therapy session. I photographed, wrapped, and shipped them off to my favorite signs. Then I did what any creative did in 2015, I posted my creations to Etsy and waited for something to happen. My $37 was gone, and so was my block of cheese. Come Tuesday, a beautiful sound came from my phone. I had never heard it before. It was my etsy shop. Someone had bought 4 zodiac dream catchers. It was three weeks before christmas after all. By Thursday, I had made my rent, plus another block of cheese, and I was absolutely beside myself. From that week forward crafting became my religion, and I knew if I spent enough time in worship I could make miracles happen. I have come a long way since that week. I had to close my etsy shop because I moved across the country two different times and settled in Texas, where I met my husband. I felt godless without craft, and I knew I needed it in my life again. This time, I wanted a space where my craft could breathe and not be in the way of anyone else. I didn’t want to have to clean something up if it was setting, or have to move something every time someone wanted to eat. A space that would grow and morph with me as projects evolved. My advice to any crafter is to marry a carpenter. My husband took to my desire like any saint would a blind man, and he constructed the dining corner of our apartment into the studio pictured here. I saw potential in our combined skills and wanted to make a business out of it. Lady and Lion Co. was born. The name Lady and Lion Co. comes from my husband’s and my zodiac signs. Carlos is a leo, (the lion) and I am a virgo (the maiden or lady). But I didn’t want our shop to only be zodiac focused. Since craft was such a benediction in my life, I wanted to help people find rituals that brought them mindfulness the same way my studio has, and help to move people away from their ego-selves, and more to their higher-selves. Lady and Lion quickly grew a dual meaning that represented our ego (lion) and our higher selves, (lady, which is a societal term for a woman of high class, or a goddess).
With that, everything I make in my studio is meant to grace the person who receives it. It is made with much gratitude, authenticity, and intention. I want whoever receives it to feel that kind of energy, mindfulness, and love. My studio is a hub of all those things, and despite being just a corner in our apartment, it is the center of my world. My own mecca.
Have you always been creative? When did creating become a regular part of your life?
Yes I have always been creative. When I was a kid I have very distinct memories of meditating when I colored, or when I would make things like mud pies. I went to art school for college, and studied photography. It has always been part of my life but not always celebrated. Growing up, I felt like math and science was preached often and it was rare that I felt inspired to write or do art. Not to mention, “craft time” at my house was discouraged because of the mess but I always wanted to be crafty and could hardly wait to have a place of my own just for that purpose.
In a nutshell, what was the path that led to you establishing your current creative space? I wished for a space where I had permission to be messy and work out a project, which is really a form of therapy for me. A lot of emotion goes into my crafting and sometimes I need space to let it breathe. My ex-boyfriend, before my husband, who lived with me when I set up shop on my kitchen island couldn’t help but be peeved by my “Studio” and I didn’t blame him! I didn’t want to associate guilt with my crafting, so I knew I needed a place that warranted freedom.
What do you create in your studio? Are you a full- or part-time artist? Do you sell your Creations? I create a lot of mixed media. Aside from my zodiac dream catchers, I make cards, zines, memory games and wall hangings. I incorporate my photography, graphic design, and poetry into a lot of things. I’d say I’m a part time artist but a full time creative. If I’m not crafting, I’m expressing creativity in a variety of outlets like cooking, gardening, or writing. Yes I sell my creations on my website and at a local farmer’s market
Where is your studio located? How long have you created in this studio?
My studio is located in Montgomery County Texas, which is just North of Houston. I’ve been with this space for two years and it has grown significantly and I am always amazed how much a simple corner can hold.
Describe your studio as you would to someone who could not see photos of it.
What is the overall “vibe” of your studio? My studio vibe is wholesome. I wanted my studio to invite me to it everytime I walked by, so I made sure the tones of wood we used for the shelves and table top were warm and my storage boxes on the shelves were from a similar palette. I have various decorations that promote my well-being and imagination vignetted between my storage boxes and materials, and underneath my table top there’s carious storage carts and containers.
Did you have specific goals when setting up your studio? Did you encounter any challenges in making it what you wanted? I don’t know if I would call them goals, but I needed a place where I could hang the web of my dream catchers so that when I applied the feathers I had 360 degree access to the ribbon I was attaching them too. I also wanted a lot of storage and those are two reasons the shelves come in handy. Aside from my shelves above my crafting counter, I have a white corner shelf in the opposite corner next to my window with wicker shelves. The biggest challenge was utilizing every inch of what is essentially a corner in our apartment, while still allowing full functionality and pleasing aesthetics. 600 square feet isn’t a ton of space at the end of the day, and eliminating our dining space meant less room for entertaining and flexibility.
Do you have separate areas for specific processes/activities? Not really. I wanted to be by a window so I had light to photograph things if I wanted, and the right corner of the space kind of acts as a ritual space, and holds a lot of my prayer books, runes, singing bowls, and incense. My kitchen counter still becomes part of the studio when I’m making cards and I set up my paper guillotine on it.
Why does your current setup work for you? How does it impact/influence your artwork? I love my current setup. It does force me to be more organized because space is limited, but I love the challenge.
Does your artwork require any specific areas, equipment, or accommodations in your studio? I use a lot of things like stamps and wax seals and such, so I have these kraft brown photo boxes that I use for storing those things. They fit quite perfectly on the shelves above. I also use a very specific hook that my husband has to shape for me. It’s purpose is so I can hang the dream catchers up and also have them face me instead of how a normal hook would go. The hook hangs on a wooden dowel, which is also specific to my studio. If dream catcher’s aren’t hanging on the dowel then tea stained paper being set to découpage is.
How do you sort and store your supplies? I use a lot of things like stamps and wax seals and such, so I have these kraft brown photo boxes that I use for storing those things. They fit quite perfectly on the shelves above. I also use mixed media like wrapping paper, pieces of burlap or wood, and dried flowers and wheat, so underneath my table top there is a basket that holds the wrapping paper and an art cart that holds all the ribbon and such. My husband also designed these table top shelves that hold things like pens and brushes.
What are some of the most special, sentimental items in your studio?
My craft corner is sacred space to me so I use it as spiritual practice as well as crafting. I have my vision board hanging, my angel box, and my cat, Woman’s ashes up on my shelf. I made my angel box after a friend of mine died tragically and it’s an item I visit often. I write notes to him when I’m trying to manifest something or I write him gratitude lists and thank him then keep the notes inside the box. The box itself is this stained wood box with a photo transfer of him smiling. My cat was a really important subject in my life especially when my studio was my kitchen counter. She would stay up with me and wait for me to finish etsy orders, or remind me to take a break by meowing incisively, or play with the beads and feathers that would fall from the counter, so I’d like to think she is still with me when I am crafting.
On any given day, what is your studio schedule like? Do you follow a routine? Do you have any rituals? I sometimes wish I had more discipline, but that’s the best part of my space is it was built to evolve with me. Kinda like prayer is. Sometimes life doesn’t compel praying, but it can still be a pillar of our soul. When we come back to it, we realise how much we missed it and it never chastises us from being away. My crafting space is a steady place in my life, that is always there when I need it, and is never bitter if I leave it be for a while. I don’t really have a routine with it, it is a guilt-free space that I am always welcomed in. My only ritual is that I light a tea light and an incense when I am working. It is also the place where I meditate though, and the window next to it serves as the subject in which I meditate on. There is a hummingbird feeder outside the window and I often watch the birds fly in from the forest to drink and play.
How do you overcome creative blocks? Do you have a go-to exercise for jumpstarting your creativity? Music is a very powerful tool that I use when I do not feel motivated to be in my studio. I put on tunes when I don’t feel like working or am lazy. I also like to cook and garden, and both are connected to the studio, so when I am overwhelmed, I’ll often make a batch of one of my go-to recipes or get my hands in some dirt and take care of my plants.I also like to do the ten minute rule which goes like this: If I don’t feel like working but need to, I set a timer for ten minutes and only have to commit to that much. This tricks me into building momentum, and by the time the timer goes off I am usually motivated to complete my project.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I am often moved by poetry and lyrics and find language powerful. My husband and I don’t speak the same language, and that really inspires me to look for words in action and how much of what we say is in our body or tone. Aside from language, I love decorating and am often moved by interiors or spaces that are inspired and whimsical. I find atmosphere to be important to my energy and mood, and completely believe in the power of decorating to transport us into escapism. What advice would you give to makers without a dedicated studio or those with only a small corner for creating? There’s this old persian proverb that goes: “I cried that I had no shoes until I met a man without feet.” I would tell them that even if they had a bigger studio, they would be dreaming of a bigger one, so make sure to show gratitude to their space and make the most of it. I love every inch of my studio and utilize all of it. Do I wish sometimes it were bigger? Sure, but I never wish away the space I have now, I’m always grateful. If you really want perspective, there are people in the world who don’t even have a room to sleep in, let alone a craft corner, so show gratitude to your corner and love it anyway.
Do you have any clever and/or decorative storage ideas to share? I don’t know if I’d say it’s clever, but I stack 5x7 photo boxes and use those for storage. Often I find them on sale at craft stores. They work really well and I love them because whenever we move I never have to pack my studio up because it already kind of is. I also love them because they’re compact and things never really get lost in them, the insides are white so nothing can camouflage itself in black or other patterns, and they have beautiful little slots for labels, which I adore. I also would recommend counter shelves like the one I have. Being able to put things on elevated space doubles your work space.
Do you have any tips for setting up a studio on a budget? Never underestimate the utility of a good box, basket or jar when setting up shop. All of those items can be found at your local thrift store.
If you sell your artwork, do you have any business advice — for instance, how to stay on top of orders, how to prepare for a show/fair, etc.
I am not sure if I have the merit to give out business advice, but I would say your time is valuable and you deserve to get paid. Crafting is a gift and if everyone could do it, then everyone would. Just because you enjoy it does not mean it is not worthy of compensation. So with that said, when someone does purchase your creations, make it an experience worthy of both yours and your customers time. Treat it like a gift because it is. Not everyone gets to craft for a living. Procrastination is natural to artists, but never forget that you get to do this and it is a privilege. I would also advise that if you sell online, you should also sell at a local craft market. The reason is mostly to your benefit, because when you sell online you miss a lot of things about your customers. When your creations are at a market you hear sales objections and specific language around your goods that would otherwise go unheard. You also have an opportunity to learn a lot about your customer like who they are, what they dress like, if they are buying for themselves or for a friend, and you understand the market you’re selling to and it helps you target that market. Craft markets often support a good cause through your booth fee and it’s a simple way to give back. Creative Confessions
1. Do you ever rearrange the layout of your studio? Why/Why not?
Kind of. I re-organize it often. It’s bolted to the wall, so it’s kind of hard to rearrange it, but I do move things around on the shelves and such.
2. What is your advice to other artists who are struggling with self-doubt or feelings of inadequacy about their talents/creations?
There is a fine line between an artist, designer and a creative which is often blurred. You may not be an artist, you may be a creative or a designer but still be stuck labeling yourself. Stop limiting yourself and applying rules to your craft. You’re feeling self-doubt and inadequate because you’re applying rules of what should be not what is.
I remember in art school, I wanted to be good at painting but no matter how much I painted, it seemed to get worse not better. I felt embarrassed in front of my class. Then one day I incorporated mixed media into my paintings and everyone, including myself was amazed. I broke the rules I had made up in my own head, that only paint was allowed on canvas, and that’s when I discovered I was more of a creative than an artist in the traditional sense. I had made a painting, but I didn’t only use paint to make it. My teacher never told me only paint was allowed, I just thought since that’s what everyone else used that’s what I had to use too. Not true. You don’t need anyone’s approval or permission. Your craft should be for you.