Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Q&A with Creative Art & Soul

Kristian from Creative Art & Soul took a little time out of her day to tell us a bit about the herself and the art of sandcarving. How cool is this?!

1). So, tell us a little bit about the art of sandcarving and your craft business, Creative Art and Soul.
Sandcarving is done by using a sandblaster and a vinyl mask or resist stencil. First, I create a vector image on my computer and print out a negative transparency. I expose a type of light-sensitive vinyl resist with the negative transparency to UV light and then adhere it on to the stone. The portions of the vinyl that were exposed become brittle, while the remainder of the vinyl remains pliable and ‘resists’ the stream of fine grit. My sandblaster consists of a large 60 gallon compressor that pressurizes my 100 lb pressure pot filled with very fine silicon carbide. The pressured air mixes with the grit and shoots out the nozzle. I use a large blasting cabinet to keep the grit enclosed.

Prior to starting Creative Art and Soul, I was a career non-game wildlife biologist for about 15 years. I loved my job because I got to work outside with wildlife and help conserve and preserve important wildlife areas. However, the last few years I ended up sitting in a cubicle for most of the time and was getting bored, unhappy and unhealthy. I went to a therapist who told me I needed a creative outlet ... a hobby. I laughed and insisted that I was not the creative type. I took to heart his advice and went home and Googled "You don't have to be an artist". The first thing that came up was a company that sold sandblasting equipment. They had a video on their website with everyday people happily carving and sculpting fabulous items in glass, stone, and tile. After watching that video about 10 times that evening and after a few beers, I purchased a ginormous professional sandblasting system. I spent all of my free time after work putting the thing together, making messes, blasting holes in everything and honing my skills.

My first thought was that I wanted to etch architectural glass (doorways, windows, shower doors) however it wasn’t long before I realized that once I messed up a large piece of glass, I was out a LOT of money! Next I tried glassware, vases, suncatchers, specialty frames, but it wasn’t practical for craft shows. Every time the wind would kick up, I’d loose inventory! Shipping glassware was also a hassle. I even tried etching wood toilet seats! It took a lot of planning, reworking, soul searching, and trial and error to find out what was really going to work for me and inspire me, as well as be marketable. That is, until one day when I was cleaning out my jeep and found some colorful pendant stones I had stashed under my seat nearly 2 years before …. and the light went on! OMG!!! I could etch these! I was so excited! I worked hard throughout the next few months to achieve the simple but classic style I now have for my pendants. It has now been 3 years since I etched my first Creative Art and Soul pendant and 3 years working my business full time. It has definitely been well worth it.

2). Wow! You have so many different designs to choose from. Where to you find your inspiration?
My biggest inspiration comes from the diversity of people in this wonderful world of ours and the various cultures, beliefs, and concepts. I am interested in iconic symbolism in world cultures (i.e., African adinkra symbols, Celtic symbols, Pagan and religious symbols, Spanish and Mayan symbols, Native American symbols, modern and pop-culture symbols, etc.) as symbols and icons provide concise pictorial information: a meaning, a belief, a myth, a concept, a history, a story or an expression which I find fascinating. Adding cultural expression to wearable art pieces speaks to people. It is thrilling when someone is drawn to one of my pendants; their eyes light up, they identify with it, and they seem to shine when they are wearing it. It is a wonderful thing to experience and it makes me quite happy!

3). Quick! What’s in your pockets right now?
Some dog-hair and random fuzz, crumbs from dog-cookies, a quarter, and a beer cap.

4). What three words would you use to describe your craft?
Hip. Cultural. Expressive.

5). Where can we find your craft outside the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market?
The majority of my sales come from craft shows and festivals (30-35/year) within my 4-state area (WV, MD, VA and PA). My main online selling venue is Etsy which I really love and have much success with. A whopping 1/5th of my online sales are from custom orders dreamed up by fabulously creative customers. I also recently opened a newer online shop on ArtFire. I’ve contemplated selling on other online venues in addition to Etsy and ArtFire, but I certainly do not want to spread my attention too thin and lose my focus. I do offer wholesale accounts and currently sell to a few retail shops in WV, NY, and MD.

You can find Creative Art and Soul online at

Etsy: http://creativeartandsoul.etsy.com/
ArtFire: http://creativeartandsoul.artfire.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/creativeartsoul
Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/creativeartandsoul-facebook
MySpace: http://myspace.com/creativeartandsoul
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandcarvedpendants/

I think I'll stop there!