Sunday, December 16, 2012

Buy Handmade vol 39

We head out west this week to Portland, OR

Name: Christine Srivongse Collins
Age: 27
Occupation: Designer/Crafter

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi there! I’m Christine. Wood & Grain emerged after my husband, Ian, and I got married last year in the woods of northern California. We handmade nearly everything for our wedding and the experience and results were absolutely amazing. We had so much fun, we thought to ourselves - why should we stop just because our wedding is over? We now live in Portland, Oregon with our dog, cat and two bearded dragons.

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

I’ve been creating things since I was a toddler. The first thing I made on my own were Barbie clothes with my sister. We were too young to be using needles and thread, so we used tape and glue. They turned out absolutely horrible, but since we made them ourselves they were special. 

I’ve used Etsy since 2008 and occasionally sold things on it that I had made for fun, but I didn’t get serious about it until October 2011.

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

I wanted a name that was both playful and serious that evoked nature and the outdoors, which are the main inspirations for my work.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?

It has, and I am very grateful for it. Being able to focus a significant amount of my time and effort into making things for people and improving the shop has been wonderful.

How would you describe your creative process?

When it comes to creating something, planning ahead is very minimal in my process. I usually get really excited about an idea I have and I start making it right away. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and get it right the first time. Other times I don’t. But I learn from the mistakes made along the way and keep working on it until I think it’s perfect. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Nature, of course. The requirement for all the items in the shop is that it has to look good sitting on a tree stump in a wooded forest. 

Do you also sell your work at craft shows?

I’ve done one wedding show so far and it was a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ll be a part of another anytime soon, but possibly some time in the future. Putting all of my products up in a booth was a great exercise, since it gave me a chance to see everything at once. It let me know what was good, what needed work and what was missing.

What is your most cherished handmade item?

The site of our wedding on Ian’s parent’s property. We spent less than six months, with the help of family and friends, turning an unusable forest into a gorgeous handmade wedding venue. For the ceremony site, we made a log bench amphitheater from a recently fallen pine tree that seated all 110 of our guests. We built a terraced hillside for the reception and had the bride and groom table on a handmade elevated platform between two pine trees. We spent nearly every weekend digging, surveying, hammering, cutting, sanding, cleaning and generally working ourselves to the bone to make the wedding happen. It was a ton of work, completely worth it and that site can’t help having a place in my heart. 

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

We spend most of our free time exploring the surrounding wilderness by going hiking and backpacking. We are obsessed with food, coffee, beer, biking, cooking and we love to travel. I write about our adventures and occasional DIYs on my blog

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

Probably working in a microbiology lab or a food manufacturing factory. I studied Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology in college and was working in a food manufacturing plant in San Francisco until I moved to Portland. That dream is on hold because I’m fulfilling another – this shop. I’m having way too much fun and I can’t give it up. 

Five years from now you will be…

Living in a houseboat in New Zealand for a year or two.

Describe yourself in five words:

1. Shy
2. Creative
3. Anxious
4. Adventurous
5. Busy

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?

1. Ludovico Einaudi
2. The Kinks
3. Sigur Ros
4. Led Zeppelin
5. Ella Fitzgerald

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

Have great, original products that you are proud of, take good photos in natural light and have fun! It’s so satisfying when something you made is making someone else happy.