Friday Features are all about meeting the talented artists and creators of hand crafted goods to share their stories and bring to light the value and beauty found in handmade.
Today’s feature is all about Anna from Mind Traveller on Etsy!
Tell me about yourself and your shop.
My shop ‘Mind Traveller’ is simply a great outlet for my creativity. It combines my tendencies to daydream with a need to get away from my studies and create something with my hands and all my other senses instead of sticking my nose into books all day.
On MindTraveller.etsy.com I offer my unique, hand bound, colourful journals. I make their covers out of soft leather that I engrave with own motifs and dye in intense shades. Occasionally, I also bind a diary in a locally produced (in other words: Scottish) woollen fabric. The paper my books are filled with is also carefully chosen to be long-lasting and environmentally friendly, and I treat each single sheet either with coffee or with acrylic paint.
Because I love exploring all kinds of crafts and it’s getting cold outside, I’ve taken up knitting recently. Just today I’ve started my second pair of socks (hooray for youtube tutorials). In case you haven’t guessed yet: they’ll be very colourful (keep an eye on my twitter account @mind_travels to see them once they’re finished).
How did you start, and why did you choose your craft? How much experience do you have so far?
I started bookbinding three years ago when I wanted to change a few (fundamental) things in my life and thought having a journal to help me sort out what I wanted would be a good aid (it was!). I didn’t just want to use any odd blank book I found in a shop, so I bound my first volume (in green felt with feathers) and loved the process. However, there are many different things flowing into the craft – I have been drawing and painting and working with all kinds of materials all my life, so I have a good sense for combinations of colours and materials (I only use natural materials – leather, wood, wool, feathers). I constantly try out new techniques and designs, so there is always an experimental element to my latest projects, but that’s what I’m doing it for: to remain creative and open for everything. That’s also why I never make a book design twice. It also means that I invest a huge amount of time into each book. No routine. No assembly line.
What influences your work from your life or city? (or anything else that influences you)
Well, I do love to browse through my local fabric shop… Apart from that, I am not someone who sees something and immediately needs to capture it in a piece of art. My ‘inspiration’ might be more the need to flee my dissertation or to be able to share something beautiful with other people.
What do you do when you need a little bit of inspiration?
The good thing about my projects is that they step by step fall into place. I might get inspired by a nice metal charm that I see online (so happened with the ‘Jolly Snail’ or the ‘Golden Autumn’ journal) and think of a matching engraving for the book cover, and then I develop a feeling for what colours would fit well, how the book should be bound etc.
What is your best achievement?
Moving to Edinburgh, a foreign city. It seemed a huge step for me, though in hindsight it really wasn’t, but it widened my horizon and brought me together with a bunch of lovely, supportive people who also talked me into opening up my shop.
What does handmade mean to you?
Creating something with love, patience, and dedication. Working with all your senses (smelling, touching, looking) and full attention to shape something another person can rejoice in.
Do you also offer custom made items? Is it something you like to do?
Yes, I do take commissions. I would, e.g. welcome ideas for a motif or material. As long as you leave me some artistic freedom, I love challenges!
What plans do you have for the future of you business?
My aim is to raise awareness of my shop and gain the name of someone who makes good quality books with great designs. At this point, I cannot make more than about 10 books per month, so what I am striving for is a moderately sized circle of returning customers.
Any advice for others looking to sell their handmade items?
Have patience – even with the best product in the world, you need to invest a lot of time to find the right strategy to make people aware that you’re out there. Communication is the key.
Many thanks to Anna and be sure to check out the rest of her shop for more beautiful finds!
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