Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Feature - Missouri Bend Studio

I know, it's after midnight, so it isn't really Friday, but I blame it all on Hurricane Earl! We had to drive to Rhode Island today to save the car from the impending storm (and our license plates FINALLY arrived today! Three whole weeks of waiting!). We were just driving away when some heavy rain started, so we made it just in time. And so far haven't had any issues up here. Anyhow, I wanted to share with you an Etsy Shop that I've really enjoyed following, both through her shop, on the Etsy forums, and on her blog, Missouri Bend Studio. Patti makes some amazing pieces of art out of mixed media. Each one is unique and oh-so-beautiful! I just love the creative and expressive designs and landscapes she makes...I wish I had half her talent! So let's get to know Patti from Missouri Bend Studio.

1. How did you get into crafting?
I think of myself as an artist, rather than a “crafter” per se, but having said that, I don’t know where the line is, between those two pursuits. Perhaps for me, being an artist goes beyond an activity to an identity and a way of being in the world, if that makes sense. I graduated from art school in 1980 and have been making art ever since, even alongside my job as a cataloger in the academic library of the school I attended, Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. I left that job after 25 years when we moved to South Dakota in 2005, but have never had a time when I was not making art. I get pretty cranky if I’m away from the studio for too long!
2. How did your Etsy shop come to be?
Well, my husband and I moved to South Dakota 5 years ago—he is a printmaker and now on the faculty at the University of South Dakota. The idea when we came here was that I would be in the studio full-time, which was what I did for the first year, but then I broke my leg and was laid up for a while and had time to think. I found I missed interaction with people and being in a library. Just then a ½ time position opened up at the university library. I worked there for three years, but let’s just say it wasn’t a good fit…not anything like the job I’d had at Ringling for 25 years! I was looking for some way to move on from that and heard about Etsy in early December of last year. I took the leap and opened my shop in mid-February and “retired” myself from the job in mid-May. I love this new Etsy life—am learning a lot about the on-line world, meeting new creative people and making a lot of new work in the studio. Etsy didn’t exist when we first moved here, I don’t think, and my time alone in the studio had no real focus or outlet, which is something that is really important! Now, I’m totally driven and immersed in this whole pursuit.
3. What is your favorite part about being creative?
My art-making practice is the way that I come to terms with my understanding of the world and of my place in it. I find that I think through my hands and as I make the work and watch it emerge, I learn what it is I’m actually thinking deep inside. And I’m never, ever bored…on the contrary, my biggest frustration in life is that there are not enough hours in the day and one lifetime is hardly enough to do everything I’d like!
4. Are you a full time crafter or do you have a "day job?"
As I mentioned before, I quit my ½ time day job…it was a leap of faith, as we are now on one income. While I have had many exhibitions and been in many juried shows up until now, my focus has never really been on sales. It’s a bit different now as I’m actively pursuing sales with my Etsy shop. Things are still very slow, but I am still working hard to make the numbers improve. I surely don’t want to go back, so I’m moving forward, wherever that takes me!
5. If someone were to buy you a birthday gift on Etsy, what 3 words would they use in their search?
This is a really great question! And really hard!!! I’m very interested in encaustic, which is a medium I haven’t pursued (Yet!) even though I work with beeswax. So, “encaustic” would be one word. I don’t think anyone could go wrong with a “mixed media” search and I would also choose “whimsical”…there’d be some tough choices from what would come from those searches!
6. How do you create your designs?
My work is very intuitive, so I never make sketches ahead of time. I keep playing and making marks, layering paint and drawing, until things feel right and I begin to understand what the work wants to be. This often means that there are many layers to the work that are buried, but they become part of its history.
This doesn’t mean there is no struggle or frustration…I’m often at battle with myself. I’d have to say that lately, things are becoming more fluid in some of the work and it just comes without much struggle. That is especially true of the new work in the Pearls on a String series. I really love working with the drawings on teabags dipped in beeswax. Now, I’ve also found that I can collage the teabag drawings with gel medium and this allows for a different way of working, so I’m playing with that as well. I often have several things going at once, all at different stages and move from one to the other. I’m really best when I’m in a flow and things come from deep inside and not from “thinking”….if that makes sense.
7. What's in your Soundtrack to Sewing?
If you are asking about what I listen to in the studio, it’s a wide variety. I’m most interested in folk and traditional music, fado, and classical. Here’s a sampling of what’s been on in the studio lately…Amalia Rodrigues, Abigail Washburn, Uncle Earl, Steve Martin, Philip Glass…the list goes on!
8. Favorite spots for inspiration?
We live right on the Missouri River overlooking the Nebraska bluffs and we absolutely love the landscape here and even though I don’t work directly from life or from the landscape, it is always a source of inspiration.
9. Who inspires you? I’m discovering many, many wonderful artists just here on Etsy…here are some that come to mind right away….with their shop names.
Olivia Jeffries (restlessthings)
Karen Turner (hodgepodgearts)
Cathy Nichols (cathynichols)
Amand Blake (thisisalliknow)
Cathy Cullis (cathycullis)
but there are so many more…you could look at my “favorites”…they’re all inspiration!
10. If you had to choose one item in your shop as a signature piece, what would it be and why?
I suppose I might say Pearls on a String no.6…it’s definitely one from the Pearls on a String series and I suppose that might be the defining one. I think it’s because those pieces practically create themselves….I’m really able to get out of the way and trust in the process. They have meaning for me in that they are about the idea of pearls on a string, which for me, alludes to moments of truth that occur throughout our lives, or the way that, through language, words are strung together to create meaning and magic. That piece also has the spoon which is probably the first utensil man created in order to keep himself fed…so it serves as a metaphor for me and it’s such a beautiful simple shape. I love working with the teabags dipped in beeswax, drawing with ink and sewing on paper.
It’s all there!

Thanks so much to Patti for given such detailed answers!

If you would like to be part of Sensation Shops, from which I choose my Friday Features, let me know. I'd love to see your Etsy shop and get to know you a little better. Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. Thanks so much for the opportunity to have a feature on your blog, Silver Rose! You've chosen lots of images, which is wonderful...hope your readers enjoy the post. Glad Earl didn't wreck to much havoc on your lives!

  2. Wow--so pretty! :) Tell your kitty hi from mine. :)


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