Occupation: student, teacher
Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaymateCreatures
Tell us a little about yourself.
I live with my boyfriend and our cat in Ulyanovsk, Russia. Right now I’m trying to combine studying for my graduation exams, working as a teacher and making creatures.
When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?
Actually, I started making toys only 1,5 years ago. Before that I tried painting, sculpting and sewing separately, but all that was indeed pathetic. I was almost disappointed in myself when it dawned upon me – if everything I make is so unsatisfactory, why not try mixing it up, it won’t hurt anyway. When I was holding in hands a tiny white sheep, my first toy, I realized that it was exactly my cup of tea. 4 months later I opened my group for Russian speakers – vk.com\claymate and then people started writing to me with orders. They gave me a great opportunity for development and I’m really thankful for it. In May of this year I opened a shop on etsy.
How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?
It’s as simple as can be – clay is one of the materials I use for my toys and mate is what I want my toys to become for their owners. The word ‘claymate’ also sounds a bit like a cat mewing which is pleasant, I think:З
Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?
By now I have very few sales here and I mostly use the site for inspiration. My shop on vk is, however, quite popular. I had a lot of orders this summer, so for those 3 months making creatures really became my full-time job. I enjoyed that time tremendously, but now I have to study and to work and have less free time for creatures. Maybe after graduation I would be able to devote all my time to my toys.
How would you describe your creative process?
Rather chaotic. I never know what a toy is going to look like until it’s ready. I just take a piece of clay and let my fingers do all the work. As for the sewing, I never keep patterns, partly because keeping more paper would turn my table into a junk pile completely. It makes creating copies of toys impossible, but it also makes every single toy one of a kind.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love everything that possesses some kind of very quiet and gentle sadness hidden deep under million layers of either joy or anger. I think Scandinavian and Japanese culture contain a lot of elements like this – they combine simplicity and significance. Sometimes I give my creatures names like Olav or Haru, it really seems to suit them.
Do you also sell your work at craft shows?
No. Ulyanovsk is not very big and we don’t have many craft shows here. But I’d like to take part in some show in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg one day.
What is your most cherished handmade item?
A handmade bear Misha by Olga Lisichnikova (http://grgrrgrrr.tumblr.com/post/12674954418/bear-mihalych) It is exactly the kind of treasure that you fall in love from the first sight and want to get it in hands and cherish and lull immediately. I hope that my creatures arouse similar feelings in people.
Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
I love playing videogames with my boyfriend, cooking, reading and stroking my cat Pumpkin. In fact I like staying at home so much more than going out ^^’ Feeling safe and cozy is very important for me.
Was there ever any other job you dreamed of having growing up?
As a child I dreamt to be a vet/ a teacher/ a poet and even a sailor. I guess I had very vague and over-romantic ideas about these professions, most of which I got from books. Only a dream of becoming a teacher came true.
Five years from now you will be…
well, in fact it’s too hard to imagine now. I hope to go on making toys and devote more time to it. I like teaching and dealing with kids, but it’s hard to spend 6 days a week at school. Of course by that time I’m going to have my own children and it’s an important change. So it’s really impossible to predict anything now.
Describe yourself in five words:
Anxious, introverted, quiet, determined, intuitive
Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your iPod what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?
Akira Yamaoka, Ramona Falls, Shannon Wright, Dead Man’s Bones, Soap&Skin
Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?
My advice won’t concern Etsy but presenting your work in general. I think that the most important thing is to decide why you do what you to and how you expect people to feel when they see your creations. The atmosphere that a thing brings along is very important. I try to make my toys look and feel as if they belong to some other time and space which can open up before you if you look close enough. Sometimes people write that my toys scare them in some wirdly gentle way and then I realize that I’m doing everything right.