Name: Ann Martin from All Things Paper
Website: All Things Paper blog
What do you make?
I make paper filigree jewelry and framed art pieces.
What or who inspires you?
I often find myself making mental notes of design details I see in the world around me and sometimes do on the spot sketches… perhaps a wrought iron gate, an unusual plant, or an ornate antique catches my eye and sparks a new project.
I also find much inspiration in the work of paper artists I discover online. That’s why my blog is as much about the work of others as my own; I love sharing my finds.
How did you get started?
I first gave paper filigree a try shortly after seeing an article in Martha Stewart’s magazine that featured intricate Valentines and monograms shaped from paper coils and scrolls. I was captivated by the elegant look and seemingly magical things that could be done by simply rolling and pinching narrow strips of ordinary paper. In the beginning I cut paper by hand and used a cake tester from my kitchen drawer as a tool. I learned techniques via books, websites, and helpful quillers I met online.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
There are so many beautiful specialty papers available today – graduated and reversible colors, gilded edge, parchment, vellum, pearl finish, and of course every color under the sun. Sometimes I cut strips from found paper that intrigues me... theater programs, envelope liners, old books. As long as the paper is similar in weight to standard computer paper, it should handle well. Any glue that’s suitable for paper is fine… the main trick is to not use too much.
calligraphy credit: Riva Brown of Living Letters Studios
What is the hardest and most favourite part of crafting?
I try to stay true to a challenge I’ve set for myself… to never make the same design twice. I have lots of ideas, but sometimes it’s tempting to crank out a duplicate because it requires lots less thought. I much prefer to clear a block of time and create an entirely new piece, or at least tweak a previous one and improve upon it in the process.
My favorite part is introducing what I do to people who have never seen or heard of paper filigree. They’re always surprised by it and are interested to hear about its long history that dates back to the European Renaissance.
List 5 of your favourite links and why you like them
I’m a fan of blog reading and am almost embarrassed to say that I have a favorites list nearly as long as my arm. Blogs appeal to me because of their always evolving, fresh content.
Cold Antler Farm: Jenna Woginrich's blog is one I enjoy because she writes so vividly about the kind of country lifestyle I admire, but will never have. (Don’t be sad for me; that’s not what I meant… I love my life!)
Craftypod: All-round creative maker, Diane Gilleland, covers many aspects of crafting for a living via interview podcasts.
Twitter: Twitter has the constantly changing content aspect that I like about blogs, but in much shorter bursts. It’s a wonderful way to network with those who share your interests.
Pandora: Realizing I could create my very own radio station was a stellar moment as I often listen to music while I work.
We love indie: Recently I discovered this site that features indie art, craft, and design blogs.
Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
Connecting with others online who are involved in the arts and crafts community via groups, blogs, and Twitter is a great way to keep your mind on a creative track. You’ll hear of opportunities and the people you meet will be a source of support and understanding for what can be an isolating career.
This will sound trite, but remember to be kind; the internet is a huge, but not impersonal place – quite the opposite really. If you put your best foot forward, I think you’ll soon find that whatever goodness you give comes back to you. Take time to leave a comment when you see an idea that speaks to you and post free tutorials and/or helpful information about a topic you know well.
Art vs. Craft – Are these terms different? Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
There is a difference; we all think of the Mona Lisa as art and a paint-by-number kit as craft. It’s unfortunate though, when people are dismissive of crafts as a whole without considering each on an individual basis. The quality of workmanship determines whether something is a fine craft. Words such as artisan and craftsperson imply skill and we appreciate the term handcrafted when it’s applied to beautiful furniture or tooled leather, for example.
There’s no doubt in my mind that paper filigree can be both an art and a craft. I had the pleasure of exhibiting my work at a museum last summer, but have to say that making a simple quilled gift for someone special is also satisfying.
(photo images courtesy of Ann Martin / All Things Paper unless otherwise noted)
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