#72 unofficial etsy featured seller - bullfinchbarbury
Date joined etsy - 12/3/07
Sales to date - 370-Tell us a bit about yourself name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
My name is Lia Bowen (bonjour!) and I am the colour addict responsible for Bullfinch & Barbury. I am found most often in the sprawling suburbia of Philadelphia - a comfortable distance from Center City as well as the little towns and farms of Bucks County. I am a member of the Etsy Artisans Gallery team and the Grains of Glass open studio.
I love Poirot and Poiret respectively. I have a preoccupation with gemstones, orchids, and sea anemones. The summer is my favourite season - I combat the winter with a healthy dose of mangoes, chocolate and black tea. I have a sweet, black cat named Evelyn and five uppity Lionhead rabbits (this wintry time of year, they resemble a herd of sheep).
-Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I work in research and content writing for a small marketing company by day - by night I fire up my kiln and light up my torch to make jewelry.
I enjoy cooking and baking - seeking out new recipes or unusual ingredients. I also love flowers and putting together flower arrangements (a past vocation) and taking long, brisk walks to help me think/plot/dream about whatever is on my mind.
Every couple of months, I feel the urge to plan an elaborate dinner party - usually themed to suit the menu. Last year's parties included a WW II Underground Meeting and a Mystery on the Orient Express party. (I got to dress up like a vamp named Honoria Barbury and play murderer - I "poisoned" an unsuspecting young man by putting powdered sugar in his wine.)
My sister, Sarah - a cellist whose hours of practicing used to inspire me through the walls that once separated our bedrooms - now lives in Baltimore with her lovely husband and family. I love driving along the fields of Towson to get to their house, stopping at Boordy Vineyards to buy a bottle of wine for dinner. Most of all, I love to see the adorable "baby faces", my nephew and niece and enjoy the unparalleled hospitality of Sarah and her husband, Nathan.
-What first made you want to become an artist?
When I was 13, I read a novel and there were no pictures in it, so I got out pencil and paper and began drawing that I thought each character would look like. From that point, I wanted to be an illustrator for children's books. When I was at university, I took one metals and jewelry class, and fell in love with the medium, the power tools and the most excellent prof. I've ever had: Karen Misher.
I still like to draw, and watercolor when I can, but it seems like the majority of my ideas are expressed in metal.
-Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Little glimpses of things inspire me - a decorated cake in a bakery window, the worn edges of a much-loved antique, or a brave little snowdrop flower raising its head from the frozen soil.
I work with sheets of metal and spools of wire - each piece is measured and cut, then soldiered or riveted and shaped to form one of a stack of bangles - or a cocktail ring - or a delicate necklace. At this point, I enamel each piece; a process that calls for multiple coatings of vibrantly coloured enamel and repeated firings in a 1400 F degree kiln.
Before I started making things for Bullfinch & Barbury, I worked at a commercial jewelry store. The rings designed were done so on a computer, a machine cut the model out of wax, more machines cast the metal, tumbled and refined the surface . . . each item was "untouched" by human hands until the creative process was 3/4 of the way finished. (And this was considered a 'custom design' as opposed to everything else that was made hundreds at a time.)
Part of the reason I love my enameled work is because it is very hands-on, each piece is a little different from any other - and the use of color was so therapeutic after so much of the white-stones-in-white-metal that was spat out of the commercial jewelry industry.
-What handmade possession do you most cherish?
When I was a child, I bought a tiny horse figurine carved out of pink soapstone - something about its size in relation to my smallish hands made it irresistible.
Right now, I have an embellished T-shirt from Eliza and Axel and a deep blue shirt from Unabashed Apparel - both almost guarantee I will have a brilliant day whenever I wear them (they must be good luck). ;)
-Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
The Complete Collection of Sherlock Holmes Short Stories
1000 Years of Solitude
The Golden Compass
Lawrence of Arabia
The Saddest Music in the World
The Philadelphia Story
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ;)
-What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Give your Etsy shop an identity - a bit of your personality. You want your work and your shop to reflect a sense of identity or individuality. Consider what expresses the driving force behind your creations - or who you are as an artist. Create a logo or a specific font to "brand" your shop banner, blog, facebook, invoices, mailing labels, etc. This makes your work look more professional - but also, each purchase from your shop becomes an exciting, unique experience for your customers. It's the details that make your shop more memorable and fun for you and your customers. Let your self shine through!
-What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love the chat rooms - especially the organised chat sessions (the virtual labs) where shops are critiqued . . . I love seeing other people's shops! I also really enjoyed browsing through the gift guides and treasury because it was great to see what people had "found" and how they curated collections of hand-made or retro goodies.
-How do you promote your work?
Right now, I'm utilizing every free method of spreading the word about my work. This means I Tweet, Facebook, Treasure-ize and blog about my work, my friends' work and my favourites. I just started putting together a mailing list for my fans and offering "give-aways" to thank them for supporting or admiring my work. Every once in a while, I feature some new pieces in a showcase slot on Etsy - though I've found that it is best to snag the top category. So, in my case, I purchase a showcase under "jewelry", rather than the subcategories like "bracelets", "necklaces", etc. because they get less views than the top categories.
-In ten years I'd like to be...
Living in a stone farmhouse on the edge of a retired field - I envision a long driveway, a well-behaved dog asleep on the porch, and a smashing young man busily working alongside me on a hobbie/passion of his own. I would like to keep rescued horses, host dinner parties, and perhaps get a degree in art therapy and reach the position (academically and financially) to offer therapy at no charge. My goal is to return to working in precious materials like gold, platinum and diamonds, but retain that priceless quality of individuality which only comes from being made by a pair of human hands. Also, perfecting the techniques behind French cooking would be nice. ;)
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As always, thanks for reading :)