Sunday, September 02, 2012

Buy Handmade vol 20

This week we travel to Charlotte, North Carolina

Name: Mark Ellis
Age: 60
Occupation: Wood Worker

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in a long cabin on the St. Clair River. We had a beach in front of our house. It was a Huck Fin lifestyle; swinging, fishing, and floating down the river on inner tubes. The St. Clair River was an international water way. Ships from all over the world would sail by. At an early age I knew that I could walk out the back door and sail to any ware in the world. In the 80’s I had a boat repair shop on Harsens Island MI. Learning boat repair from the old master boat carpenters. I moved to Charlotte in 1988 and worked for a contemporary furniture company for 20 years. After 20 years I was laid off and spent two years looking for a job without luck. I bought out an old fellows garage wood shop, put it in my basement and started building birdhouses.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

I started building birdhouses in 2006 and joined Etsy in 2011.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?

Kool cigarettes had a promotion selling sailboats with the Kool logo on the sail. I just added bird to the Kool to come up with koolbird.

How would you describe your creative process?

With building birdhouses there are certain parameters with regards to size but I try to have an unlimited creative scope within those parameters while also being able to build them in a reasonable time frame.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I have always been a fan of mid-century modern furniture. Classic curves of speedboats from the 40’s and 50’s have also been an influence.

Do you also sell your work at craft shows?
• What shows have you taken part of, and do you have a favorite?

Yes. I have participated in shows in Charlotte, Atlanta, Savannah, and the Atalaya Castle in Murrells Inlet, SC. Atalaya is by far my favorite, as I do not do many shows in castles.

 How long does it take you to prepare for a show? Do you have any special methods of getting ready?

I use a simple display method that allows me to load up quickly. I work seven days a week to keep up with the demand.

 Describe an experience from a show (good or bad) and why that pushes you to continue with your work.

This spring I did the Fine Arts on the River in Savannah and won an award for best in category. It was hard to describe the feeling of being honored by my fellow artist.

What is your most cherished handmade item?

When I was in furniture design school I built a retro 50’s coffee table that is in my study now.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?

I enjoy sailing and wind surfing at the beach and also skiing out west.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?

I would be a boat builder as it is the best example of form and function that I can think of.

Five years from now you will be…

Over my lifetime I have learned not to have long-term goals because life changes so quickly. But I wouldn’t mind doing what I am doing now in five years. 

Describe yourself in five words:

Self-reliant, don’t take your self too seriously, and it helps to have a good sense of humor.

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your <insert whatever type of music player you use here>, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

Bruce Springsteen, Marvin Gay, Rhythm & Blues, Miles Davis, and Motown.

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?

The economy is not friendly to the arts and crafts business. I would start out with local shows to get an idea of what the arts and crafts scene is all about. That is how I started and it helped as it allowed me to ask other artist for advice.