Sunday, February 27, 2011

Green Janie!

She is one of my heros! Out to save our planet from junk, literally! She will recycle and reuse and best of all creates awesome works of art from items we would think to discard. A fellow Bad Cat Creations artist that I have had the honor to get to know!

Please read about Green Janie!

I am Jane Marks-Hastig aka “green janie”

I was born in Cheyenne WY but moved to St Paul Minnesota when I was very little. I have lived in beautiful Bemidji MN for about 25 years.

I love being outdoors – camping, fishing and have recently started- slowly -running. I also love to read and spend time with my family and friends. I care a great deal about our environment and the world we are leaving to future generations.

I have always been creative and crafty but never intended to be an artist. It just sort of happened. It has opened up a whole new world for me.

I don’t do traditional mosaics. I often leave a lot of open space in my glass on glass mosaics. I use mostly salvaged materials in everything I make.

I don’t have a formal mentor but glean so much from the generous artist I have met in the past few years who share their craft and impart their wisdom.

I work with salvaged tempered glass and other glass destined for the trash like scrap plate, mirror and bottles and jars. I use a lot of UV curable adhesives and glass paint. I am having a blast experimenting with color!

I have started experiment with adding other salvages materials too.

My husband and I own a glass company. I have always loved glass – the way it plays with light, the way it is both strong and delicate at the same time – the fact that it is a cradle to cradle material that is 100% recyclable. Unfortunately there are a lot of roadblocks to glass recycling and we have a lot of waste in our industry. I started using broken tempered glass because it breaks into smooth pieces that are easy to handle. I thought I could do something pretty with it instead of sending it to the landfill where it will remain for a million years.

I have an Etsy store but really haven’t done much with it yet. It is next on my “to-do” list.

My website/blog is currently under construction and it is going to be really cool.

The first place that ever featured my art is Bad Cat Gallery and Gifts in Bemidji and is the only place I consistently sell my work. It is such a wonderful, artist friendly, eclectic place. I don’t think I would have had the courage to keep trying artistic endeavors if it wasn’t for Bad Cat.

Every time I think I have a favorite piece I make another favorite. I love Trees an am currently obsessed with them in my work. I still love the first piece I ever made. About 3 years ago, I started painting the broken glass pieces and thought artists might like to use it. I thought I should experiment to see how best to present it to people.

I found some old frames that a clock maker had abandoned at the glass shop. I put a piece of scrap plate glass in the frame, and started making a tree from some dark tined auto glass. The green glass looks a little like leaves so I put those on too and I just loved how it turned out. I was hooked. Not only is is a rush to create cool and beautiful things out of things from the garbage – it also gives me the opportunity to talk about sustainability and taking care of the earth.

I always admired artists but never thought I would find myself in that category. This has been such a positive experience in so many ways. Now I can’t imagine my life any other way.

Written by Jane Hastings

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Evolution of the Dirt Road Artists

I have been a photographer for over 10 years. My sister got me started in photography and I fell in love immediately with capturing wildlife in action and landscape photos. Nature and wildlife is my passion. I love wildlife because they do not care how much you make a year, what you wear or if you are having a bad hair day, they just accept. Nature is the most sincere and pure form of life. I rarely feel like I fit in anywhere, accept when I immersed myself in nature. There I am calm, inspired and most of all feel accepted for who I am. In March of 2010 I took the HUGE emotional leap into showing and possibly selling my art. A dear friend of mine suggested Etsy. I created a shop immediately but did not start seriously selling on Etsy until November of 2010. I found a team called the Dirt Road Artists, applied and was accepted. Here I have found another rare place that I feel accepted. The Dirt Road Artists are a talented, diverse and supportive group of artists. Please read below the evolution of this team and the fearless leaders that have given many artists a place to promote, grow and support each other.  I am so grateful for the new friends I have made.

(written by:  Phyllis Lucas)
The Dirt Road Artists team is a group of artists who live in small towns world-wide and sell their wares on Etsy, an online site where you can purchase all things handmade or vintage. Sharing the common bond of rural small town life, we promote our art as a team through contests, sales, and other promotional events – mostly we have fun, exchange ideas and enjoy one another’s company.

The Dirt Road Artists team, or as we refer to ourselves, DRATs, was started by Jude, aka azJude, and her two daughters, Connie and Phyllis in January 2010. The story behind our beginning is really quite simple and humble.

Let’s go back to early February 2007, when Phyllis, Montezuma Mudd Pottery, desperately needed a venue for selling her wares. Her basement was stacked floor to ceiling with her handmade pottery, piles teetering in every corner, leaving her no place to work. During a phone conversation with her daughter, she mentioned her dire situation and asked “What am I going to do with all these pots?” Her daughter replied quite matter-of-factly, “I know the perfect solution - Etsy. You can sell that mountain of pottery without leaving home – you can even wear your pajamas.” Intrigued by this idea, Phyllis ran to her computer and introduced herself to Etsy. She liked what she saw and immediately set-up shop, joined a team and immersed herself in everything Etsy. Jude, being her biggest fan, was there with her – not as a seller, but as a promoter. Jude created treasuries featuring Phyllis’s pottery, helped promote contests in which Phyllis was an entrant, and posted links of Phyllis’s work on her blog and Facebook page. It was a great partnership – Phyllis created, Jude promoted, and promoted, and promoted some more! Phyllis quickly sold the mountains of pots, and had requests to make more. Life was good!

Friends and family began urging Connie to show and sell prints of her amazing pencil drawings. She had recently returned to drawing after a decade long hiatus and wasn’t sure about selling her art, let alone selling on Etsy. After much thought, she reluctantly decided to give it a whirl. LifeShades opened for business in September 2009. Jude was thrilled – more promoting, more treasuries, more contests – oh my! But wait … Connie did not belong to a team! Without a team, there were no contests for her to enter, no contests for Jude to promote! It became clear – Connie needed to join a team: not just any team but one that would accept all of them, Connie, Phyllis and Jude, would be super and make promoting much easier. So the search was on. They looked high and low, kicked tire after tire, and even tried on the glass slipper, but could not find a perfect fit. Then, just as they were ready to throw in the towel, Connie was struck with an idea – one could almost see the cartoon light bulb light up when she said, “Why don’t we start our own team and put Jude at the helm?” Brilliant!

The decision to start the team was the easy part; the details of the team were more difficult and evolved more slowly. After a short brainstorming session, the team concept and name were set – Dirt Road Artists, a team for artists living in small, rural towns with populations of 25,000 or fewer (not to include livestock or dogs). With the team name in mind, membership requirements were discussed, drafted, rewritten and finalized. Connie designed and drew the barn for the team logo and e-mailed it to Phyllis, who created a banner and avatar. Armed with all the necessary components, Phyllis applied to Etsy for team status, which was granted on January 8, 2010. We were officially a team! Jude immediately set to work recruiting, accepting, and greeting new members – six in the first month! The team was growing slowly but surely, and each member brought new talent and personality to the team – painters, quilters, photographers, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, storytellers, veterans, rock collectors – you name it, we have it! We come from all over the world and are diverse in talent and personality – a great team!

The Dirt Road Artists team celebrated our 1-year anniversary in January 2011, and along with Connie, Phyllis and Jude, three other team members marked one year with the team - Pam of pworiginals, Natasha of GreenhouseGlassworks, and Cheryl of cherylzmillerArt . Congratulations! We have had a wonderful year sharing stories and laughs, and supporting one another in our Etsy journeys and in life. We look forward to many more fun-filled days and “back porch chats”.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lorri's Things

In November of this year, I finally got serious about selling my items on Etsy. I set a goal to join a team. I found the Dirt Road Artists. This is where I met jewelry artist, Lorri Amidon.

Lorri Amidon
Lorri was born in Jamaica, New York and now resides in Ottoman Virginia. Lorri enjoys camping, baking, and reading things of that nature. She also enjoys bird watching, bridge, rowing, cooking, reading, walking thru the woods and crabbing.

Lorri is passionate about family. She also believes that congressional elected officials should have limited terms with no permanent benefits from serving in Congress. She feels that all states and government must have a balanced budget and can only spend the money they have just as each and every family needs to do. She also believes in The Bill of Rights and individuals rights.

Lorri loves working and designing items from metal. She continues to work hard to be more proficient and efficient in her craft. She strives to make affordable yet unique jewelry. Instead of trying to match earrings as a pair, she challenges herself to make every piece different and unique.

Lorri’s sense of style and design is less rather than more. She does design items that she personally would not wear knowing there is a person out there that would love to wear it, cherishing it for all the love and work that goes into making it.

Lorri got started as an artist by taking adult education classes at her local high school. She was looking for a hobby to do in retirement. She experimented with every art medium available except painting. She knew in grade school that she could not paint in a way that made her happy.

Lorri started developing her jewelry making skills 1989 when her kids fledged the nest. In 1997, she felt she was ready to sell her pieces. A friend told her about Etsy, a website to sell all things handmade. Lorri’s Things opened up shop on Etsy in July of 2009.

Lorri has had many mentors. She got her start by accompanying her artistic blacksmith husband to conferences and guild meetings. She wanted to hammer but not on steel. A mentor by the name of Faye has showed her how to work with copper. Every time they meet, he gives her little tutorials to help make her designs in copper and silver.

 Lorri favors using sterling silver and copper. She can hammer them making them move into all different shapes. Each piece she creates becomes a part of her. She would love to work with gold but it is cost prohibitive. She calls her copper and silver work “play” because she gets so much enjoyment from handling it and learning more about it each day.

Lorri dabbles in other mediums as well. She creates folk art. Some of these are Street urchins (Christmas Carolers) created from gesso, Styrofoam, paint and odd pieces of material. She up cycles by reusing recycled bottles of different sizes. Lorri also creates garden sculptures from antique or old dishes that she drills, copper and copper pipe.

Lorri has participated in the Artist’s Studio Tour that the local library sponsors. It allows people to visit her small studio, learn about her craft and purchase her pieces. She also sells her work at a local gallery, Rappahanock Hang-Ups.

My interview with Lorri

Q: Do you have a special story about a piece you created?

A: I created a whimsical crab pin. A friend has a love of pins and she buys a pin everywhere she goes. She happened to have on a crab pin one day and I said I could make her one that would give her a grin. I proceeded to draw and make one out of copper. Then I made another, which I fired making it turn the color red like a cooked crab. I went further and added some beads for eyes. So, making her laugh I have now made about 15-20 crabs all different but very whimsical. I did find it very difficult to get a pair to match perfectly, so I have only made one pair of earrings. To make them match exactly takes too much time and no one wants to pay for that added time.

Q: Do you have a special story about someone who has bought one of your pieces?

A: Yes, I have a charming elderly lady that comes to my booth at the farmers market almost every month. She has me repair items she has bought from a vendor that sells commercial pieces. Almost every bracelet she buys breaks. I tried explaining that she is too hard on delicate jewelry and then I proceed to fix it at a nominal fee. She always buys a piece of my jewelry. She bought a pair of earrings that were black onyx and silver. She came back the next month saying she lost one at a funeral and was there anything I could do… Of course there was. I took the remaining earring and went home to make a duplicate. The next time I saw her I handed her the earring and she insisted on paying me double what I asked for the replacement.

Q: Do you have a special project you are working on now?

A: The project I am currently working on is Christmas ornaments of angels. These angels are of copper or brass and their head, legs and arms move freely. Only, I want to add some enamel work to each of them and that is where the trouble lies. I want the enamel to be a striking but not overly so element. Maybe I will have them done before Christmas 2011.
You can see Lorri’s creations at her Etsy shop:
Lorri's Things - Etsy Shop

Have questions for Lorri? Contact her at:

Melbe Creations By Melissa Burness: Call for Artists

Melbe Creations By Melissa Burness: Call for Artists: "I would like to begin to post about other artists and their crafts. Please email me at if you are interested i..."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Christina Thorne Bad Cat Creations

Christina Thorne is an entrepreneur, artist and activist. She has dual citizenship, born in Copenhagen, Denmark and now living in Bemidji, MN. Christina keeps very busy with her boutique, Bad Cat Creations and creating bold and beautiful jewelry. When she does find herself idle she enjoys camping, baking watching movies and raising (in her words teasing!) her three cats. She also enjoys collecting rocks, shells, bones, rusty metal bits, cat trinkets and silly bunnies. She loves to travel, and from personal knowledge, I know she would love to go to Copenhagen, Denmark. She is a passionate person who feels strongly about animal rights and will boycott anything tested on animals. She is just as passionate about human rights such as gay rights, slave labor, child neglect and racial profiling and will boycott and speak out in support of any injustice she learns about.

Please read my interview with Christina below:

Q: What do you want people to know about you and your craft?

A: I adore it and I work from a place deep in my soul. I allow all my designs to grow and evolve in an organic and free way.

Q: What do you feel differentiates yourself from other artists in you craft?

A: I’m a risk taker and don’t change my style depending on the trends. I’ve been told I have a bold and unique use of color combos. It’s all the daydreams in my head that swirl around and exit out my fingers!

Q: Did you have a mentor?

A: Nope- just loved jewelry!!

Q: What are your favorite materials and why are they are your favorites?

A: Wire- I love that you can bend it, wrap it, shape it into just about anything. I feel like so many problems can be solved with good wire usage :) Also enamels… they are like magic!!!!! Stones of course- I’ve always been a rock hound!

Q: Do you dabble in other mediums?

A: Oh yes- pretty much all of them at one point or another. If nothing else but to gain more appreciation for the mediums of other artists. I really like to crochet, take photos, collage, and sewing.

Q: How did you get started?

A: I started making jewelry when I was about 8 years old. As soon as I knew that it was a profession, I knew I wanted in. My Mom bought me books and materials and I dove in.

Q: How long have you been creating you art?

A: Professionally, about 9 years. But if we could say since I was a child, over 20 years!

Q: Do you sell on Etsy?

A: Yes

Q: How long?

A: About 3 years…? I’m terrible at keeping it updated. My designs sell pretty quickly in the shop, I don’t always have a chance to post them. (a good problem to have!)

Q: How did you find out about Etsy? Web surfing some years back trying to find exposure for my craft. The first time I stumbled across is I had no clue what it was. I came back to it a year or so later and it had evolved into something spectacular- I felt silly I hadn’t realized how awesome it was the first time I got there! I promptly joined and spent hours picking “favorites”

Q: Do you have your own website and/or blog?

A: Yes, both. Website is awesome, blog needs some work.

Q: Are you featured at any other galleries?

A: Nope ,none but my own shop at this time.

Q: Do you do art shows? How far to you travel to them?

A: The farthest was in South Dakota. I don’t plan to travel too far for some time.

Q: Do you have a special story about a piece you created?

A: I use to beat myself up all the time that I was never going to be an “artist” because I couldn’t draw- I just couldn’t make my hand draw the things I saw in my head. One night I got up out of bed because I had an idea for a necklace… when it was finished I remember saying “Yes! This is EXACTLY what I saw in my head!” It dawned on me then, that jewelry was MY medium, and that necklace means a lot to me because it made me see that which I had always had but never realized.

Q: What is your favorite pieces and why it is your favorite?  (see photo to the right)

A: I designed a necklace, one of the few I gave a title to, it’s called “Sailing the North Atlantic”. About a year before I had made it I spent a week on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean (Cape Hatteras, NC). I was there with a bunch of friends that had gone in together to rent a beach house for a week during the end of October (it was the off-season, so we pretty much had the beach to ourselves). I spent almost every day I was there crawling around on the beach, shellin’, as we called it. I found some amazing pieces on that beach, and I remember spending a lot of time just staring at the power of the Atlantic- it’s wild and moving power. At the end of our week there, the weather turned nasty and a hurricane was down the coast- we were happy to be heading out. I can still remember the look of the sky, the wild waves, the power of the wind, the smell in the air…. It was amazing and daunting all at the same time. A year or so later I sat going through some of my beach treasures from that trip, there was one small piece of a shell that had natural holes through it, it was already naturally perfect for jewelry making… As I played with it I remembered the waves, the sky- the feeling came back to me. I wanted to capture the feeling and the colors, which I think I did- I adore that piece! It was later bought by a lovely woman I know, and she knew just the feeling of what I was getting at when I made it. I felt sadden to see it go, but happy it was going to just the right person. It will always be one of my favorite pieces, one of my “babies”.

Q: Do you have a special story about someone who has bought one of your pieces?

A: I once got a call from a gentleman I had met at one of my art fairs, he had a bag of beach pebbles him and his girlfriend had picked up on the beach in Spain. He told me they’d just been sitting in a drawer doing nothing and could I possibly make jewelry out of them for his girlfriend- he thought it would be pretty cool and so did I! So he sent me the pebbles and I sent him a couple ideas of what I thought I could do with them- he gave me carte blanche to do whatever I thought was best (my favorite way of designing custom pieces). I designed an awesome statement necklace using the soft gray beach pebbles, moonstones and sterling silver- it was a powerful necklace. I emailed off a blurry image and the invoice, he loved it and sent me the payment- I dashed to the post office to get it out to him (post office is just across the street from my shop). When I got back to the shop I went to send him an email that the necklace was on the way, but he had already sent me an email with some very interesting and exciting information. The necklace was a gift for his girlfriend, well now his fiancé, they were to be married in a few weeks. He would be giving the necklace to her then, on the night of their wedding! Well, I can’t even tell you how thrilled I was to be a part of this!!!! I did see the lovely couple about a week before the big day, it was madness to keep my mouth shut and save the surprise! I did get an email sometime after their wedding, she loved the necklace and the thought and plan behind all of it. It was just an amazing thing to get a chance to create for someone- I love that story!!! I’m also glad he didn’t tell me his plan for it until after I was done- I think I would have been very nervous!! On a sad note- I never took the time to snap a GOOD picture of this necklace!! I was so excited once it was all done, I didn’t think of keeping a record of it. I have a bad habit of not getting photos of my work, I’m working on getting better at that now!

Q: Do you have a special project you are working on now?

A: A couple of them… I’m participating in a 2011 Handmade Challenge with a few friends. I’ve got 5 friends I will be making something for, and then I twisted the rules a little and said if anyone else wanted to do a trade, I’d add them to my list. I think I’ve got about 10 people on my list (and I put a cap on the list until I have those projects done). And then I’m milling around ideas for an enamel project I’d like to complete this year, but I’m keeping that under wraps for now.

See Christina’s amazing wok at the sites below!

Sailing the North Alantic

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Best Lil’ Boutique in Northern Minnesota

Christina Thorne is the mastermind behind the best little boutique in Northern Minnesota, Bad Cat Creations. Nestled in the Irvine Bridge Shops in downtown Bemidji this store displays over fifty local artisans. Here you will find handmade works of art from many different disciplines. Her store represents her love for the arts, life and people.

Christina is an electric life force. Her enthusiasm and kindness are contagious. Christina expresses her avant-garde creativity through jewelry design and a unique boutique that offers art for all genres. Bad Cat Creations has been in business since the fall of 2008. Christina’s dedication to excellence in all she does resulted in Bad Cat Creations award of Best New Business of the Year in 2009 from the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce. She has also won Best in Show honorable mention three times in Bemidji’s annual Art in the Park.

A devoted cat lover and all around animal lover Christina embraces life with such enthusiasm it is futile to resist catching her excitement. Why would you? She always leaves you with a smile and a genuine sense of well-being.

Christina has been creating jewelry professionally since 2002. Each piece she creates is unique in its design. Christina uses traditional stranding, wire linking & free form wire wrapping techniques. She uses primarily precious and semi-precious gemstones, born/horn, freshwater pearls & other natural elements, with a bit of sparkle from Swarovski crystals. She favors sterling silver & 24k gold fill, but also uses some ethnic metals like brass & copper. Christina creates many of her own pendants & focal pieces herself either from acid etched metals, set stones or enamel on copper. Her passion and endearing spirit is imprinted and radiates on each piece.

Learn more about Bad Cat Creations and Christina’s jewelry at the links below.  I will be posting an interview with Christina in the next few days.

Links to Christina!/BadCatCreations

The Mastermind!