An Interview with Cristy Beck

Pheasant feather necklace by Studio Botanica

I’ve been completely enamored of Studio Botanica for quite some time and beyond ecstatic to present you with an interview with shop owner Cristy Beck! In Cristy’s shop, you’ll find an abundance of ravishing flower-pressed necklaces, art, scents and much more, all fantastically designed and heavily influenced by nature. Read on to discover a little bit about Cristy and her journey into art, her shop, and her inspirations from nature.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi there! I’m Cristy and I adore all things botanical. I grew up in a city and I remember always looking for the nature to be found in between the concrete sidewalks and parking lots. Bird watching, building ‘tree forts’ in the bushes lining our fence, and watching the majestic sunflowers and morning glories blossom that my mother grew were some of my favorite things. As I grew up, I felt that I had to go to college, so I did. However, I faced complete failure so I guessed that academia was not for me. Thankfully I did get something out of my time there, my hot husband!

patina jewelry by Studio Botanica

One day once upon a time before we got married, he sat down with me and we made lists of the things that I thought I might want to do with my life. We got out the classifieds and I decided that I wanted to explore the world of floristry. So, I applied and got a job as an assistant and found that I really loved working with flowers. After several years of learning and growing and several moves across the country, we became pregnant with our first child and I became a stay at home mom. I never lost the desire to work in a creative atmosphere though, and so while I was busy in those first few years of raising children I was always looking for a way to eventually get back into school/work/something to fulfill that outlet.

Share a little bit about your shop.
When I first decided to open an Etsy shop, I really had no cohesive format or plan. I liked pressed flowers and thought maybe I could sell cards or artwork. The first shop I had on there was such a huge learning experience and I listed everything from crochet work to photography. It really was a mixed bag of stuff! I then branched out eventually having up to four shops open at once. At that point I decided it was time to make some real decisions as to what I wanted to be my craft and what I wanted to be my hobbies. I settled on the new botanical pressed flower necklaces that I was making. They were my true calling and love. I was scared because there were not hardly any other pressed flower artists on Etsy at that time. But, I decided to stick with that theme and go for it. The same time that I made that decision, we were facing another cross country move, so I closed the old shop and once we became settled in our new home in Kentucky, I opened StudioBotanica. I am so proud of what it has become in less than a year of being open, and it just goes to show that you should always follow your heart when it comes to your art.

journals by Studio Botanica

Who are some people who have inspired you to become an artist
My sister Laura taught me that it was ok to step out of the traditional box of decorating. That it was ok to be a grown up and not have mass produced artwork on your walls, but rather maybe something you created yourself, or something beloved that a family member or talented friend created for you. One of my favorite wall hangings is an old Amish barn window that my Mom salvaged, restored, and painted and gave to me for Christmas one year.

pressed flower necklaces by Studio BotanicaI have also made so many friends on Etsy, and all of these relationships I cherish and learn from on a daily basis. I can go to twitter and talk to these talented ladies all of the time and I value their expertise and quick wit. The encouragement from them alone has helped me grow tremendously.

How would you describe your artistic style?
Just go for it. If I see something in my head, I have to go down to the studio and try it out as soon as I possibly can. I have finally figured out that life is too short to hem and haw and wait around. I’m not good at planning and doodling, though sometimes that is fun late at night when I am trying to go to sleep (and I do get good ideas that way sometimes!). I mostly just think of something and jump right in feet first using any and all learning experience that I have to hope it comes out the way I imagined it.

Of the things you’ve created so far, what’s one that you’ve been most proud of?
Definitely my pressed flower necklace on handmade paper and resin line of jewelry. I feel that it has such a distinctive and beautiful look to it. I am proud to be able to create unique, one of a kind, nature made preserved beauty that will making memories for years to come. It could be a bridesmaid necklace set, something for the bride herself, or a birthday or anniversary gift. Each and every piece I create is something special to my customer. I thrive on that knowledge and it gives me the enthusiasm to continue doing what I do with Joy in my heart.

Share one of your most-prized nature possessions.
Cristy Beck's garden

My garden! Everywhere I go, I try to plant not only landscaping plants, but also a kitchen garden that I can harvest from for our family. There is absolutely nothing better than growing your own food and flowers. I make it a point to have small bouquets of seasonal fresh cut flowers in just my bathroom or bedroom once a week or so. It is so luxurious! Even a fresh cut hosta leaf in a vase by the bath makes you feel so alive. I am also teaching myself to can this year for the first time and am finding so much happiness in the knowledge and results of my work that I am learning from that.

What are some things you enjoy about nature?
I enjoy the ebb and flow of nature. Sometimes there is a drought, and that makes you wish for rain. Sometimes there is a flood and that makes you wish for sun. We all crave a balance that is really deep within each of us as we go about our day to day lives either complaining about the weather or rejoicing in it. The beauty lies within using our God given ability to withstand the bad and relish the good. I prefer to try to withstand, relish, and look forward to whatever is coming. And a good run on a cool 70 degree fall morning never hurt anyone, either.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

An Interview With Lucie Tales

We recently chatted with the dazzling French artist and maker Lucie Capdeville of Lucie Tales, who fashions together some of the most brilliant and unique jewelry from recycled metals and vintage findings. Read on to discover more about Lucie, her shop, and her inspirations.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Lucie Capdeville. I’m French and I live with my husband on the West Coast in South Brittany. I was born in Lyon, France. I’m from a scientific family, so it was not easy to make my artistic feelings and ambitions known and respected. I had to struggle for them. My parents wanted me to be a scientist and practice art as a hobby.

But I couldn’t be someone else … so I eventually followed and graduated in Arts at University. Then I worked in a contemporary art center and later in a public library but I needed to follow my own path. That’s what I’m doing now!

jewelry from Lucie Tales

Working with metal is relatively new to me. As an arts student, photography and drawings were my fields of study, then I started sewing and working with fabric. My first encounter with metal was in 2009, when I made urchins out of upcycled aluminum.

How would you describe your artistic style?
This is a very difficult question, I think it is not for me to answer that. And I’m still at the beginning and evolving all the times …

Who are some people who have inspired you to create jewelry?
My father is a botanist, so I grew up observing and naming plants, minerals and animals, I think this education had a profound influence on my way to look at and observe the world and nature. I’m inspired by Mediterranean ethnic jewelry (my family is mixed lot from Greece to Algeria via Spain and the Jewish culture). I’m also deeply impressed by the fabulous photographs of Karl Blossfeldt.

At University I’ve discovered Art Nouveau artists and jewelers such as Lalique, Mucha, Gaillard and their use of organic and floral forms. Among work of contemporary artists that have impressed me is the work of the french artist Hubert Duprat, his work of art with insect larvae and gold fascinates me.

A contemporary jeweller I admire particularly is Nora Rochel and her organic silver rings.

jewelry by Lucie Tales

Of the things you’ve created so far, what’s one that you’ve been most proud of?
I can’t say I’m more proud of one piece, it’s more like an affective relation I have with them. Some are more difficult to part from, it isn’t rational, I can’t explain why this piece especially more than this one. Sometimes, I feel that one piece is more “me” than another.

Lucie Capdeville's gardenShare one of your most-prized nature possessions.
I would say that my most -prized nature possession is my garden. I live in an old house (from the 1920s) that we are renovating slowly and the garden was a bare and concrete thing from the ’50s. People in the area were traumatized by the war and destructions and the owner of the house had rebuilt part of the house that had been bombed and he had poured concrete all over the garden, there was only a row of well cropped rose bushes left with paths of concrete each side. First I wasn’t much interested in gardening, as a child I had seen my father spent all his weekends tied to gardening chores. But the bare earth and the concrete and some few spare roses shrubs did awaken something in me. Now I’m proud of my little green oasis and I never tire of looking and observing plants and flowers all the year long.

What are some things you enjoy about nature?
I live near the sea, 200 meters far from the shore exactly, which is at the end of the street. Everyday, I go and walk the same path along the shore; it’s a necessity, it helps me to focus on simple things, my needs, and my desires. Walking and observing the changes of the light, of the season, the tides, the pebbles, shells and sea glass, sea birds are a kind of meditation that I need to feel serene.

I love the weird and the bizarre in nature, the things you look at and you don’t know whether it’s animal, vegetal or mineral like cocoons, shells, pods, lichen, rust, foam … As an art student, one of my works was about stains forming a landscape, China ink stains forming seascape.

Finally I think I’m still that child bewildered by shapes of leaves and pods, seeing a whole world in a cloud or an amazing ancient tree in a crack on a saucer cup.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

An Interview with: Mary Jo Hoffman

Photo by Mary Jo Hoffman

I’m absolutely thrilled to share an interview with Mary Jo Hoffman, photographer and creative behind STILL, a blog devoted to two things near and dear to my heart: nature and photography. Mary Jo shares a captivating photographs of found objects from nature on her blog which is like a virtual museum with a new exhibit to delight your eyes with each passing day. Read on to find out more about Mary Jo and what inspired her to create her blog.

Prints of each photo presented on Mary Jo’s blog are available for purchase in her shop and come in a variety of sizes. Keep a lookout for tea towels which will be available soon in her shop as well.

photos by Mary Jo HoffmanShare a little bit about yourself.
Hi.  I am Mary Jo Hoffman.  On my blog, STILL, I post one image a day of a natural object isolated on a white background.  My nature specimens mostly come from my backyard or my daily walks with my puggle, but on occasion I will use objects from my collections.

My deep connection to nature started when I was a child.  I grew up on the edge of Saint Paul’s suburban development in the 1970s.   I was a tomboy, and spent almost all my time running wild, with my best friend Mary, in the fields, woods and wetlands surrounding our home.   I think we may have built over 100 forts together.

After college, my husband and I moved into the city of Minneapolis, where we stayed for 16 years.  Then, six years ago we found a little house, on a one acre wooded lot on a lake not very far from where I had grown up. It was odd to move right back to those very same fields and woods I had known as a child. I suddenly felt like I was eight years old again and my sense of wonder came right back. I had no idea this familiar setting would be such a source of new inspiration for me.

photos by Mary Jo Hoffman

Share a little bit about your blog, STILL.
The idea for STILL was actually hatched in southern France. Two years ago, my family and I had an extended three-month stay in the Languedoc region of southwest France.   We like to hike, and we often gather interesting natural specimens while we explore, especially my observant eight-year-old son.  So in our rented house, we had an entire shelf full of striking nature specimens:  stones, shells and sea glass from the Mediterranean, partridge and guinea fowl feathers, chestnuts, fig leaves, plane tree bark, and various dried stems.   I couldn’t take it all home, so I decided to place the specimens on the blank pages of my journal to photograph them as a sort of keepsake. STILL blog was conceived!

For years I had wanted to try a project-a-day blog.  Both the simplicity and the daily discipline appealed to me.   As soon as I took that first photo of a wild teasel crouching like a spider on my white journal page, I knew I had stumbled onto my one-a-day project.

From the beginning, I wanted a very white-on-white minimalist design for STILL blog, but I couldn’t find any templates that had all the features I wanted.  So I hired a friend to code up my minimalist vision.  And just months after I launched, the blog won several design awards for its “perfect minimalism”.  It’s funny, but I think STILL blog has gotten more visibility for the design of the blog, than it has for its content—a funny turn of events I did not expect.

What’s one of your favorite photographs you’ve posted on your blog?
wild teasel

My favorite image I have posted is the wild teasel image I mentioned above.  The photo that gave birth to the whole idea of STILL blog.

photos by Mary Jo HoffmanWho are some of your influences in life?
This is actually a hard question for me.  I have a stubborn streak and tend to go my own way. But when it comes to living simply and appreciating nature, I think I have two patron saints:  Aldo Leopold and Wendell Berry.  Both of them expressed their very deep connection to nature with words, and not images.  But the sentiments they communicate are the same.

What are some things you enjoy about nature?
I believe my connection to nature has a lot to do with beauty.  I am a visual artist, and I love design, and architecture, and art.  But in the end, I think nature does beauty best.  I can walk the dog on the same four-mile path every day for a year, and still be captivated most days by the variety and beauty of those surroundings.

I also love the solitude of natural spaces, especially wide open spaces like prairies.  I never wear an iPod or headphones when I walk in nature.   I want to hear the wind in the trees, the birds, and the skittering in the fallen leaves. I use my walks to gather my thoughts.  I am guessing some would call it a kind of daily meditation practice.  I suppose it is.  I almost always come home more centered and peaceful.

photo by Mary Jo Hoffman

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Cat Rabbit

Image via Cat Rabbit

I would like to introduce you to something a little different today. A little while ago I was searching for some website inspiration and came across the beauty that is Cat Rabbit.

I was immediatly in love with the super cute photos, layout, and logo. It wasn’t until I clicked on Menagerie that I realised exactly what Cat Rabbit did.

p.s. How cool is the name?

*Mind… BLOWN*

stuffed toys by Cat Rabbit

Are these little guys not the cutest things you have ever seen?!

So today, I wanted to share with you a little email interview I did with Cat from Cat Rabbit:

ME: Where did you get the idea to make these guys from?

CAT: I started making plush versions of the little illustrated characters I would draw in the margins of my schoolbooks while I was at University around 2004. They started out as gifts for friends and then I moved into selling them in stores and markets, participating in exhibitions and now, 8 years later, I am making them full time.

I had never dared to hope I could make a living doing something so fun, but here I am. Pretty lucky I guess!

Feathered warrior by Cat Rabbit

ME: What inspires you?

CAT: I am super inspired by my friends that make things: I share a studio with the brilliant Andrea Innocent and Catherine Campbell who are constant sources of inspiration and also very tolerant of my felty mess. I am also inspired by animals, particularly pugs.

ME: Explain a little bit about your process. 

CAT: I usually start from a sketch – I particularly like drawing the outfits I want to dress my characters in. I don’t use a pattern as such, it’s more of a sculptural process where I add bits as I go along. They very rarely look the same as the original sketch, but that means the end product is always a nice surprise!

ME: What’s your favourite colour?

CAT: I have a few favourite colours on rotation: duck egg blue, sunshiney yellow, peach and brick red. All those colours together would be dreamy.

ME: Your website and logo is top notch, who designed it?

CAT: A Tasmanian design collective called Floating World. They are friends of mine and so it was a real pleasure working with people who really understood what I did and could communicate it through my site and logo so well. They have now disbanded to do amazing things as individual designers.

Cat Rabbit

Thanks Cat for taking the time to answer my questions. Love your work and always look forward to seeing your latest creations!

Make sure you go check out Cat Rabbit’s store for all the cuteness.

About Jasmine Flamenco

Jasmine is a maker, crafter, ceramicist, wife, knitter, origami amateur, and Master Chef in the making (if Master Chef only included making vegetarian food). Visit her blog for lively inspiration.

An Interview with Olivia Ruess

I’m pleased as punch to share this week’s interview with Olivia Ruess of Redding, California, who owns Petal Mix, a fabric floral accessories shop teeming with ravishing hair clips, bobby pins, brooches, and even a line of vegan friendly options. Below, Olivia shares a bit herself, managing an Etsy shop, and a few things she enjoys about nature. Read on to discover more about this talented woman.

Tell us about yourself.
I was born in England to first-generation Japanese and English parents, and spent the first few years of my life in Japan.  I now currently live in Northern California with my husband, Eric.

I have never considered myself to be an artistic person.  Many of my relatives are talented artists, but after mediocre attempts at drawing and painting, I figured that the artistic gene had skipped over me, so to speak.  It wasn’t until I discovered tsumami-kanzashi that I found my own artistic outlet.  I had been admiring pictures of maiko (apprentice geisha) and their delicate yet intricate floral hair decorations and thought to myself, I would love to be able to translate this into something more wearable for every day occasions.

bobby pins by Petal Mix

Tell us about your shop.
Like many people on Etsy, I started my craft just making things for myself and for friends/relatives.  It was actually my in-laws’ idea to open an Etsy shop, and I am so grateful to them for that.   It hadn’t crossed my mind that I could actually make a living at this, but to my surprise things actually took off and here I am nearly three years later!

Etsy has been a wonderful experience for me.  I’ve had the opportunity to be in magazines and most recently was featured in Etsy’s “To Have and To Hold” wedding event.  None of this would have been possible without Etsy, so I am beyond thankful that such a site exists.

brooches by Petal Mix

Who are a few people who have been influential in your craft?
I was first drawn to tsumami-kanzashi after viewing the amazing photography of Onihide-san.  His portrayals of maiko captivated me and inspired me to create my own style of kanzashi.   He has since passed away but he will be remembered by many for sharing a unique view into the beautiful world of the maiko.

What does a typical day look like for you?
My day always starts with a cup of coffee, and from there I read my Etsy convos and respond to new treasuries and circles.  On a busy day with a lot of orders, my time is filled completing sold pieces and running to the post office.  On slower days and weekends, I get to be a bit more creative and come up with new designs using the endless amounts of fabric that I’ve collected over the years.   After everything is boxed up and I’ve made my post office run, I relax and have dinner with my husband, and catch up on shows we enjoy or play whatever video game I’m currently obsessed with.

What’s your most-prized nature-inspired possession?
I have a few nature-inspired items that are close to my heart, but the most prized are my two Kamakura-bori plates hand carved by my Japanese grandmother.

kamakura-bori plates

Kamakura-bori is a traditional form of woodcarving made from the wood of either the Katsura tree or Gingko and finished with lacquer.  The lacquer is then rubbed down to reveal the carved patterns and to give the piece a mottled look.  I’m amazed at the skill needed to carve such intricate designs, and it is even more special knowing that they were made with my own grandmother’s hands.

What are a few things you enjoy about nature?
I love cottage gardening.  I have dozens of antique and English style roses growing in my rather jungle-like back garden.  I’ve also planted ornamental cherry trees and Japanese maples, interspersed with a multitude of low-growing perennials.  It’s a bit wild back there but I love it.  From where I work I can see the hummingbirds visit the geraniums, and watch the swallowtails floating by.  In the afternoon the sun filters down through the oaks and makes patterns on the wall.  There’s a creek running along the far side, so you can often hear the calls of geese, and at night the croaking of toads and frogs.  All in all it’s a small peaceful oasis of nature for me.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.