Crafty Women of North Alabama

As evidenced by all the holiday open houses and craft shows happening this weekend alone, there is no shortage of men and women interested in trying to make a living selling their wares. But one thing that sets the North Alabama Holiday Craft Expo (November 10th at the Roundhouse Depot) apart is that this group of local artisans and crafters are all just that – local, artists and crafters.

To understand just how unique this expo is, we asked four of the artists who will be participating next weekend about what they do and how they got started. They not only answered our questions, but each offered us a piece of their work to give away to some lucky RCM readers! So be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post and go see them next weekend and say “Hi” and let them know you say them on Rocket City Mom. The event is family-friendly, totally free and there will be a raffle!

Wendy Qualls – Nerdy Necklaces

Art/Craft – Not all my jewelry is nerdy – I have a fair number of other things too – but I love basing designs off retro video games, pop culture like TV shows and movies, steampunk, anime and Japanese culture, and dice and board games.

 

How did you get started?
To join a craft group, actually! Several of my friends have a “craft night” once a week where they get together to chat and craft, but I didn’t have anything portable I could do. I took up making jewelry so I could join in their craft nights.

What do you enjoy most about the process?
There’s something really exciting about finding a new pendant or a new colorful bead and thinking “Oh oh oh! I know what I can do with that!” I also love finding new ways to reference bits of pop culture – putting together a gold spherical pocketwatch and gold wings to make a golden snitch and matching it with Gryffindor house colors, for example, or finding the perfect color beads to make a Tom Baker “scarf” necklace from Dr. Who.

How did you become part of NACrafters?
My craft night friends and I had a table at the Madison street festival last year and someone told me about it. I did some digging on Etsy and found NACrafters.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?
Business advice – if you want to craft for more than just yourself and your friends, be prepared to run your own business. Invest in a way to take good pictures, set up an online store, research how much other people are charging for similar things, and keep track of how much money you spend versus how much you make. It would be easy to think “I’ll sell this!” and then end up with thousands of dollars worth of inventory because no one is willing to buy your hard work for as much as you think it’s worth. I love all the business aspects of it – lugging all my necklaces to craft fairs and science fiction conventions, taking pictures and listing them online, seeking out new advertising venues – but not everyone does.

Brittany Howery – Brittany Howery Creations

Art/Craft – Acrylic paint on canvas and burlap. I also make sophisticated accessories out of duct tape!

 

How did you get started?
I began painting in High School. My mother and Grandmother are both very crafty. They make jewelry. I get my craftiness from them.

What do you enjoy most about the process?
Seeing the end result. I love having an idea in my head, knowing what I want it (whatever IT may be) to look like, and watching it come to life. I also love the positive reactions I get from folks, especially when I tell them that my brooch or hair pin is made of duct tape.

How did you become part of NACrafters?
I found them on Etsy shortly after I opened my shop on that site. I asked to join because I loved the concept. I also loved the fact that it was LOCAL. Some other shows here in town are not local artist/crafters, and some of the things sold aren’t really even hand-made. I’m always disappointed when I go to shows like that. NACrafters is not lacking imagination and creativity.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?
Do what you want and do what you like. If you don’t like what you do, you will burn out fast. Your work reflects how you feel about it.

Kathryn J. Depew – Cotton Ridge Pottery

Art/Craft – Kiln-Fired Jewelry, Hand-Built and Wheel-Thrown Pottery

 

How did you get started?
Before beginning lessons I had admired pottery for several years, and had collected a few nice pieces. I had dreamed of taking lessons to learn how to throw on a wheel, but never thought I’d really do it. In 2006 my friend Judy Cleve had a birthday party at Pottery By You in Madison. At the time, in addition to providing pre-made bisque for customers to glaze, they offered pottery classes. I decided to sign up for Beginner’s Pottery Wheel, and never regretted it! Since then I’ve taken several more wheel, hand-building, and tile-making classes, and purchased my own wheel and kilns. I’ve sold my pottery and jewelry at art and craft shows and online since December 2006.

What do you enjoy most about the process?
I love the feel of the clay and imagining what I am going to make next. It’s fun to try new glazes on different clays, and it’s always exciting to open the kiln after a firing to see how everything turned out. The process is creative from beginning to end – whether I am designing a pendant, a pair of earrings, hand-building a candleholder, or throwing on the wheel, I love it!

How did you become part of NACrafters?
Jessica Moon invited me to join soon after I re-opened my Etsy shop last year. I am very grateful – it’s been wonderful meeting fellow Etsy artists here in Huntsville. Judy sells my jewelry and pottery at the craft shows for me, and she has enjoyed meeting everyone, too! They are a great group of people!

Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?
Don’t be shy, and don’t be too afraid of critique. Put yourself and your art or craft out there. You will find that new ideas come to you while you are networking with other artists and talking with customers. You will be challenged to work at improving your skills when you see artists who have been creating longer than you – take every opportunity to learn from them!

Donna Stoddart – Fretworks Designs

Art/Craft – I create decorative panels for interior applications and wall décor.

How did you get started?
My husband and I have renovated two homes from top to bottom. We have done everything ourselves. I decided I wanted to do something about our ugly wall register covers that were so prominently displayed in our home. I knew nothing about wood working or machinery, but had an interest in both. I purchased some equipment and set off to learn how everything works. Thank heavens for internet forums and YouTube! About a year later, I opened an Etsy shop, and eventually built a web site.

What do you enjoy most about the process?

The design process and helping customers decide the best way to go about a project. I love getting a request from a customer who has a piece of furniture that they would like to dress up, or repair. Of course, the best part is seeing the finished product!

Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?

Believe in yourself and constantly strive for perfection in your craft. If you truly enjoy what you do, the time and effort is so worth it!

Details

Who: NACrafters
What: Holiday Craft Expo
When: Saturday, November 10 from 10AM to 5PM
Where: Roundhouse Depot, 320 Church Street (Downtown Huntsville)
How Much: FREE
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Giveaway

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