Monday, January 26, 2009

Alice Saunders

Alice Saunders, Massachusetts
Forest Bound

Do you ever read through someone's personal blog or browse through someone's flickr account and wish you could trade lives for a day or two? This is exactly how I felt while putting this post together.

1. How long have you been constructing bags, pouches and jewelry out of salvaged materials and and how did it all begin?

I've been sewing things together for as long as I can remember - but I've been making various bags, pouches & jewelry under the name Forest Bound for about a year now. Previous to this I was involved in various projects both solo and with friends. Forest Bound is the product of many years of craft evolution. But to me, it's always made more sense to use fabric and other materials that I would come across at thrift stores and flea markets. Not only was I saving money, but I was finding patterns and styles that were guaranteed to be one of a kind. It started with bedsheets and pillowcases, but over the years has evolved into the materials I work with today - mostly sturdy old military canvases and cottons.

>> click here to continue reading the interview

2. How would you describe your style?

Hmm.. I'd describe my style as being traditionally inspired. Simple and rustic with a modern sense.

3. One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look? What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

For a long time I've had a pretty defined creative style. Just a few days ago a friend sent me an email about how he had come across a mixtape I had made for him about five years ago and wanted to let me know that he liked how consistent I am with my aesthetic. I guess it's just who I am - earth tones, old treasures, worn in fabrics, hand stamped packaging. I want to always show a part of myself in everything that I produce. I think that's the most important piece of advice I would give to aspiring artists - just to always truly stand behind what you create.

4. How do you come up with your lovely designs, could you describe your creative process?

I spend a good majority of my time digging through bins and piles at flea markets, in old barns, at antique stores and I am so inspired by the old treasures that I uncover. My creative process starts here - with the exploring and uncovering of things that would otherwise be forgotten - and evolves from there. Each piece I create is a response to something that I have found - I don't use patterns for any of my bags or pouches, but instead I see what size and shape I can sew from an old military tent that I found at the bottom of a trunk, or from a worn canvas newspaper bag from over 60 years ago. For me, every step of my creative process is like a little adventure - discovering something new from an old artifact.

5. If you could put your products on the shelves of any 3 stores, which ones would you choose?

That's a very tough question! But I'd have to say that Needles and Pens in San Francisco would be my Number 1 choice. Second, Faythe Levine's Paper Boat boutique and gallery in Milwaukee. And third, Rogues Gallery in Portland Maine - I like to hope that someday my work will be refined enough to make it onto their shelves!

6. Who is your idol/current craft-crush?

Another tough question!! But I'd have to say that the one artist who has inspired me for many years and continues to do so with every piece of work that she puts out is Monica Canilao. The way she puts together color, texture and various mediums has always blown my mind. To me, every piece creates is beautiful and unique. Wait, can I say another artist too? It's too hard to narrow it down to just one. I get so excited whenever I see something new from Brendan (SWAMPDONKEY). His drawings and photos are always so good.

7. What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

I don't think there was a specific event that triggered it.. I've just been gluing and sewing things together for a long, long time. I want to be a productive person, always coming up with something new - whether it be for myself, for my friends, or for my etsy shop. I think that the amount of creative work that I do is directly related to feeling that I need to be constantly being productive - every free second I have, I want to be making something. This mindset can get exhausting at times (especially for my boyfriend, who thankfully puts up with my consistent rambling about new ideas and the things I should be working on) but I don't think I'd want it any other way.

8. Do you do this full-time? If not, what pays the bills?

I don't do this full time - but I am thankful to have a work schedule that allows me to focus exclusively on my crafts for a few months a year! During the growing season I split up my week between working at a farmers market in downtown Boston (for a wonderful local organic farm) and doing fine garden maintenance (helping to take care of fancy annual and perennial gardens). Since my work is seasonal, I am able to spend the three coldest months of the year inside working on crafts. It really is the most ideal schedule for me. When it's freezing outside and the snow is falling, I get to be in my work room sewing away. But when everything is in bloom and the vegetable season is at its height, I am outside all day every day getting my hands dirty in the soil.

9. You've sold over 100 items via Etsy - can you give new-to-Etsy folks some advice on the best way to get noticed. Is it just a matter of luck and good timing or do you have a recipe for success?

I don't have any sort of recipe for success. I started my etsy shop with no real expectations and really just focused on creating these pieces that were a part of who I am. My favorite thing about etsy is that it allows people to find crafts that they connect and relate to. Having this shop has been a way for me to connect to others that truly understand what I make and what I'm trying to get across. Sometimes it's tough at craft fairs to make that kind of connection with your potential customers, but etsy just makes it so easy and accessible. So my advice would just be to make things that you are passionate about and that reflect who you are - the people who understand and appreciate this will find you and get what you're trying to do, I promise!

Thanks Alice!!


Melissa de la Fuente said...

Well, I have been in love with Alice's work for awhile now but, now? I am even MORE in love! A certified humpback whale naturalist? Worked with elephants?
Crafting in the winter, gardening in the summer?
So sweet, so talented and...Just wonderful. A gal after my own heart....*sigh*

anabela / fieldguided said...

Oh wow, thank you for this interview. I admire Alice's work (I have one of her pouches right next to me at the moment) but I didn't know any of this!

Liane said...

Yep, Alice's etsy shop has been on my radar for awhile now and I am inspired by her use of materials. I have been thinking that she really has a consistent aesthetic so it's nice to see her express that here. And as I run a farmers' market and love to grow things it's nice to see her talk about that. I think I like this girl!

Marichelle said...

Hi Melis, Anabela and Liane! I'm glad you guys enjoyed the interview, it was such a treat to find out more about the Alice!

Carrie S. said...

I'm a big fan of Alice for many reasons, so it's great to see such a nice feature about her. Congrats, Alice! I'd like to talk to you about those elephants some time...

Banana-head Pancake said...

I love her style - great interview, I love reading about talented people.

revecca said...

Forest Bound is the JAM! I have enjoyed every lovingly created item!!

Jess said...

Alice is my etsy crush! Her store is the compliment to mine, I think. My style is really bright and fun mixed with natural and earthy. Her creations compliment everything I love about mixing two different styles. Sometimes I think I should stick to one or the other, but that is just not me. I am a mixed bag of color and rustic. Now I know we have even more things in common. VEGETABLES. teehee. I may have to send her a love letter. ♥

Marichelle said...

Hi Carrie, Lauren, Jess & Rebecca! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello.
Jess - "love letter" that's exactly how I felt :)

Suzy said...

Yes I love this girl! She let me mail her two of my teeth and fixed them into necklaces in like a day- she's crazy-hardworking!

Always keeping my eye on her and can't wait to see where she is five years from now.