Thursday, February 19, 2009

Featured Artist Friday

It is time now to introduce you to artist Sarah Dressler who reigns over the fairie ring called ToadstoolsNTreestump on Etsy. The following works are available in her Etsy shop: Sarah's artistic endeavors are many and varied. She holds a BFA in crafts, with a focus on metals and jewelry. In addition to her freelance work and her shop on Etsy, she is also an art teacher. A heavy interest in the Renaissance and the Middle Ages led her to become a member of The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). She showcases calligraphy and illumination work through the SCA. She has been creating these wonderfully fantastical art dolls for the past four years. Six of her dolls were featured in the Summer 2006 issue of Art Doll Quarterly. Get your conversation piece now!

Read on to learn a little more about this whimsical artist and the materials she uses in her work.

Do you draw specifically from history for your dolls, or is it just a feeling or period that you wish to convey?

My calligraphy and illumination work is carefully researched and pulls from specific aspects of medieval culture. My dolls are less about a moment in our human history and more about a journey into the world of the fae.

What tools and supplies to you most use in your work?

For my dolls, my favorite fabrics are quilter’s cottons; I am particularly fond of batik cottons. I love the sense of freedom in the colors those techniques produce. For doll wings I love playing with Angelina films and fibers, sometimes incorporating wires, sequins and beads as well. My dolls hair is usually either Yadeno Mohair or a combination of eyelash yarns. I use a technique called needle felting to attach the hair. Until sometime last year, all my dolls were completely hand sewn, but I have finally made peace with my sewing machine and most of the seams on the dolls bodies are machine sewn. I use John James long darning needles for the rest of the hand sewing.

My favorite materials in my jewelry making are pearls, every color and shape. I love the ethereal quality of the light they reflect. I also love moonstone, garnets and amethysts, among others. I generally use accuflex 49 strand beading wire, it’s as flexible as thread but is made of steel and so is very strong and it means I never have to thread a beading needle again.

When I paint, I use hot press watercolor paper and Winsor Newton gouaches. Gouache is an opaque watercolor. Depending on the piece I am working on, I sometimes use 23 carat gold leaf and sometimes use gold colored gouache.

How does one go about getting an appearance in a trade magazine or quarterly?

I got lucky. Art Doll Quarterly has a show and tell section that occupies 30 or so pages at the back of each issue. You just send in your submissions (or images of them) and cross your fingers, while you hope that they will fit into the editor’s plans. I got lucky the first time I submitted. I have submitted since then, but have not been selected since. But I will keep trying. I am now looking at other magazines submission guidelines to see if I can get published again. Most magazines have submission guidelines printed in them somewhere or they are posted on the publishers web page.

Are you a city mouse or a country mouse?

I have been a suburban mouse, and a city mouse (10 years in center city Philadelphia) and now that I have children we are country mice, being surrounded by developments. I live in a village that has never had door to door mail delivery in more than 200 years. There is something wonderful about the sense of connectedness you get bumping into your neighbors in the small local post office. Our fast paced, online world sometimes leaves us with no faces to connect with names, or we nod at our neighbors as we get in our cars and leave for our hectic lives. In small towns there is more of an opportunity to stay connected to the people around you. You just have to readjust your thinking. It was a rude awakening when we first moved here, and those opportunities were first seen as inconveniences, now I enjoy the chats I can have with the people I meet in my neighborhood while I walk to the post office.

Where are all the places we can find your work?

At the moment the only place on line that I am selling is Etsy.com. I occasionally participate in local craft shows and I am looking into what it would take to get into Fairie Con 2009. For 2010, I am hoping to get into Fairie Fest (in York, PA) as well as the Maryland Fairie Festival. Fairie Con may be possible in 2009. I am also planning a series of open studio days here in Delaware, and looking into local galleries.

Parting advice to the aspiring artist?

Have faith in yourself, have patience with yourself, and work hard. Many people scoff at artists as being lazy dilettantes who do nothing but sit around and play with paint (or the materials of choice). It’s not an easy life, it’s not an easy path; there are no more Renaissance patrons out there offering financial support. You have to learn how to be a good business person as well as a creative one. Apply some portion of your creative energies into strategizing how to get your work seen. Play by the rules, read the terms of service on networking sites and anywhere you want to post your work and take the time to understand your copyrights. But most of all, make what you like; if you don’t enjoy what you are creating why would you expect someone else to? If you create with joy your work will show it.

I love that she walks to the post office to pick up her mail!

I love her positive attitude and beautiful work!

Now, go create with J O Y!!

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