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Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – September – Susie Blair – Store – Urban Prairie Girl

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My name is Susie Blair, and I have been sewing all my life!  I am a one woman business located in Sebastopol, California. I was born in Eritrea, and have also lived in Kodiak, Alaska, and Venice Beach, CA.  I have been married for 29 years to Gary, who is a high school teacher, and I have an 19 year old daughter named Hannah, who is a competitive swing dancer, and a college student.
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I am in Delhi and I seem to have grown the extra set of arms a crafter needs to do it all!

I have two shops currently, both on Etsy.  Urban Prairie Girl, which features handmade and custom fitted clothing, cloth napkins, dish towels, my ever popular pillowcases, and handmade curtains, all sewn up with Indian prints which I bring back every year from India.   I opened my first clothing shop because a friend once said to me, you know, if you spend as much time working as you do playing on the internet, you might actually make some money. (Thank you, Tony Angel!)
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My second shop on Etsy is called UPG FABRIC ANNEX, which carries my entire line of hand selected Indian fabrics that are simply the most unique and beautiful fabrics that you  will not find in the USA.  I created Urban Prairie Girl to feature my handmade clothing, to provide custom fitting clothing for ALL sizes of women, and of course, an outlet for my prolifically creative mind! I want my clothing to feel comfortable and beautiful, to be long lasting, to fit you well, and to make you feel like the free spirited woman that you are!
I would have to say, that the fabrics I choose each year for my collection, definitely lead me in whatever direction I take off in, creatively speaking.  The fabrics are my paint, my canvas, my inspiration.  I have been traveling to India for 16 years, and my fabric collection has grown so large I had to open the fabric shop, which was another dream of mine come true!
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My 2015 shipment has arrived!

Then, I have a handful of timeless designs that seem to work for all sorts of body types, which is definitely a goal of mine.  Properly fitted clothing is quite a challenge.  You know, a lot of women feel like there is something wrong with their bodies because when they go clothes shopping, nothing fits! Clothing manufacturers make clothing to fit the “average” figure, which, guess what? Practically NO ONE is that size!!! Clothing manufacturers also choose to NOT make full flowing skirts and dresses which actually fit over hips!!!  The average woman hip measurement is 38-40”!  You will not find a skirt in a clothing store like my handmade skirts, which are generously cut and made to fit your body.
You might think this is crazy, but I have never had a sewing room or workshop. Since I was 6 years old, I have been sewing in the kitchen, and cutting out my garments on the living room floor.  I am 54 years old, and I still crawl around on the floor cutting out stuff!  I sew on the kitchen table, my three trusty Berninas fit nicely there. Unfortunately, that means, no kitchen table, ever! And, no cooking super smelly and oily stuff in our kitchen because of the fabrics.  My patient family is constantly working around fabric piles, cutting boards, and that ever wobbly ironing board with precariously perched hot iron which never seems to get turned off.
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Me On a train In Sri Lanka, December 2014

I find that working at home sometimes prevents me from getting on a roll, but on the other hand, I don’t have to commute, or pay rent on a workshop or store, and I get to work in my pajamas all day if I want to! (like now!)
Anyway, sometimes, I am sewing a custom fitted garment to someone’s measurements, and other times, I just wake up in the morning and ask myself, “what do I feel like making today?”  In fact, today I am making some really cute fabric storage boxes for makeup and other small items, just because I got some very cute zippers I am dying to play with. Sometimes I just sort my fabric into piles that “go together” which inspires me to take off on another  project.  Now, lets talk about those piles of fabric.  At this point, there are mountains of fabric in three, ok, four places in my house.  Most are organized into see through plastic boxes because I do not want them to get dirty or dusty, are not prewashed, and I can see most of the fabrics through the boxes. There is one, ok, two piles that are not in plastic boxes, and all of those fabrics have been prewashed and preshrunk, and ready to be played with. I both sell the fabrics  (www.upgfabricannex.etsy.com) and use them to my hearts content! And in case you are wondering, my average shipment from India each year is around 400 pounds, that’s weight, not money.
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I grew up in a home with two very handy parents.  My father was an electronics technician in the US Navy. He was a genius and would build clocks, televisions, radios, sheds, sidewalks, patios, as well as have a hell of a good time rewiring our entire house, his way! ! He was always tinkering, building, fixing, and making stuff. We never needed to hire a handyman, or a cleaning woman, or a house helper, or babysitter, because my parents did it all! Man, they were handy!  My mother would sew a lot of our clothes, curtains and mend our stuff of course.  There was always a sewing machine around.
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In school I loved all the art classes, all the dance, all the sewing classes! It was in high school that I had an art teacher, Mr Rousey, who saw a connection that could be made with my artistic self and my sewing self, and he challenged me to make a piece of art using fabrics.  That was the first time I ever realized that art and clothing and sewing and textiles could all be bundled up into one wonderful form of expression!   Mr Dale Rousey, my favourite art teacher, and Mrs Margaret Belmar, my favourite home economics teacher, both played an enormous part in helping me find, ME!
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I have not had a “day job” for a very long time.  But when I did work for de man, this is what I did…I was a children’s photographer, a salesgirl in various mall shops including a fabric store, a bank teller, an ESL teacher, a campus supervisor for a high school, a teachers assistant.  I have also worked as a seamster for a hat company, a motorcycle luggage company, a futon company, and other designers. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, My husband and I used to have tie dye factory, probably not unlike a lot of you! Paid for those dead shows!
I once had a boyfriend that told me, take what you do best, and what you love to do, and do it. And he loaned me $1,000. so I could quit my bank teller job and try to make a living doing custom sewing, in Los Angeles.  LOL, I cannot tell you how many perverts came to my home wanting me to make them kinky clothing.  I was just 23, and not really knowing how to handle that sort of energy.  I just wanted to make stuff that I wanted to make and have people like it and buy it!
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Now, I have to take a minute here to tell you how Etsy has changed my life.  Prior to learning about Etsy, rather belatedly in March of 2007, I struggled to make money doing alterations and custom sewing around town.  It was really ungratifying and required a lot of customer contact, meaning a lot of time. I was raising my child at the time, and sewing at home was really the best way for me to make it work.  A friend of mine told me about Etsy and that I ought to try having a shop there. On Etsy, I have developed a clientele that keeps coming back for custom fitted clothes.  Then last year, I opened my fabric shop on Etsy, and wow! That is a dream come true.  I love sharing my fabric collection with the entire world. I love India, I love Indian fabric, and I love Etsy for changing my life! Thank you Etsy, and thank you to my friend, Donna, for turning me on to Etsy!
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As I said before, It must have been the influence of my parents, constantly puttering, fixing, building and making stuff around the house. I cannot so much remember what was being made, but the memory of my dad, cigarette in hand, plotting and puttering, and making another creation.  And, my mom, sewing our stuff, cooking, cleaning, fixing, shining! Always, always busy!  I remember though, one Christmas in about 6th grade, we had gotten some crafts projects as gifts, and, while the entire Christmas day happened all around me, I sat under the tree, all day, all dang day, completely absorbed in my felt kitty art, and my paint by numbers, and my new doll clothes that my mom had made for me.  I remember a feeling that day…it was.. “I AM A MAKER!!!”
Let me tell you about those doll clothes, which I still have to this day!  My mother would sew for my sister and I, every Christmas, an entire doll wardrobe for one of our dolls.  One year, an entire Barbie wardrobe! Another, a sweet baby doll wardrobe,  The next year, my Beautiful Chrissie doll received the most swingin’, hip 70’s clothing collection ever!  Funny, how in writing this, I am remembering some of the first things I remember being made as a child….

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Well, one of my favourite pieces ever is a quilt that I made in 1990, all crazy patchwork, with a purple back and extra stuffing.  I will tell you why I still love it. My daughter snatched it for her own when she was in elementary school. She even made a painting of the bed and quilt.  I noticed how much she loves the weight, the comfort and familiarity of that quilt now as much as she did when she was a small child. It has always warmed my heart that my girl ran off with my handmade quilt and has used it on her bed most of her life. Now that she is 19. the quilt is still on her bed, although ragged!
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My inspiration comes from the fabrics I collect in India, the color, the people and the designs of India. Traveling is definitely an inspiration, not only for my creations, but also for my spirit.
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Getting a fresh cut pineapple after Chamundi Hill, Mysore, India

I’d have to say, that I am stimulated by the excitement, colors, madness and beauty of India and other travels, and am calmed, nourished and
at home in my quiet, beautiful apple orchard in Northern California.
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Working in my fabric factory in India

I’m also inspired by travel, the people, the food, and the excitement of never quite knowing what to expect, including the selection of my fabrics.  While I always return to my same fabric sources, I am constantly delighted by the textiles they have made for me during the previous months.

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During each yearly visit to India, I am always sure to tack on some great adventures.  For example, last year my husband, and a Scottish pal accompanied me to India, and Sri Lanka.  I also really enjoy the satisfaction of making something for someone that really appreciates it! I love it when I get a message from someone telling me how beautiful they feel in their new skirt!

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I’d have to say, that not having any orders, can really make me feel like a loser.  I have to really try sometimes to push myself to be creative, to stimulate my shop, to make something new. If all else fails, I start scrubbing and cleaning my house.  I also will paint a wall, or clean a closet, a drawer, or make something I don’t need to make…I just have to always be making stuff or doing stuff, it is what I do best. I think its more important to me than the money I make.
Fortunately, I have been married to my partner, with a “real job”, for a very long time.  I confess he makes the bulk of our money.  My income makes it possible for us to travel, buy ourselves things, and go out to dinner or little trips now and then.  It supplements our families income, but I confess, with the competition in the clothing market, I would not stand a chance against Macys, etc etc, and I will not die trying! I am fortunate to not have the need to feel desperate in my attempt at making a living with my art.
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I like to travel, I like to walk and walk and walk.  I like to spend time with my daughter, my cat, and my husband.  I like to play bright and fun games on my iPad. You are going to think Im weird, but I like to sew in my free time, too!

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I love to read Indian literature, and travel writers, like Paul Thoreaux. My favorite travel story, The Naked Hand, by Thoreaux. (If you just wanna check out Thoreaux in quick style, read Elephanta Suite, a collection of short stories)  My favorite Indian author is Rohinton Mistry, my favorite Indian book, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
favorite quote     “It Is Written”
-and this is not for religious reasons, but because I believe that whatever happens is meant to be, and yes, sometimes is already in the cards.
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So then, since we are the Deadhead Art Alliance, I think I ought to tell you about the Grateful Dead show which would change my life, but not for a few more years to come…..It was at the Grateful Dead, Ventura County Fairgrounds, 1984 that I met my future husband, best friend and life partner. Of course at the time, he was really more interested in my best friend. . She, and the bottle of champagne we had between us on the beach after the shows.  Gary and I remained friends until 1986, when we found ourselves on a road trip together.  Somewhere in Kansas, Gary puts on Bob Dylan’s Desire CASSETTE TAPE, lol (it is 1986)….heh, that sly devil. By the time we got back home to my beach shack in Venice, I had a new boyfriend!  We were married in 1988.  Now, the thing is, while I was content enough to  see the Dead once or twice a year in Irvine and Ventura, Gary needed to go to ALL THE SHOWS!!! LOL, so eventually we got married, a dead cover band at our wedding, our first dance to Sugar Magnolia, and our honeymoon tour was summer of 1988 Dead shows all the way to the east coast and back!  Now here we are….30 years later!
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I met my husband at a dead show in 1984, and our honey moon was dead tour, 1988…

There is something as a clothing maker I would like the world to know, the artist part is more personal and really, its just me expressing stuff, nothing else to know.  As for the clothing…well, here I go on a rant…. Did you know that the main reason clothing is cut so un-generously and tight? Money.  Why is everything see through? Sex. Ok, so those are the two main focuses in the clothing industry. Money making and sex.  The sex part, whatever…..but the money part, wow!  If you have ever taken a look into my shop, you will find skirts that are generously cut using 3-6 yards of fabric, pants that fit all sorts of bootys, dresses that don’t make you look like a ho, and all made with fabrics that are 100% natural cotton, and sometimes silk and rayon.  Of course, if you did the math, you would see the skimpy mini skirt in Wet Seal, sewn by slave labor, would show quite a bit more profit than a handmade gypsy skirt sewn with 4 yards of handmade fabric. That is why you cannot buy my stuff in the mall, its not profitable.  So, what I am getting at is, the fashion industry dictates what you will wear, what colors, what styles, how short, how tight, how cheap, how expensive, how ugly, how slutty, how synthetic, how dare they!
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I have a dream to one day have my own line of sheets, comforters, bath and kitchen items, Indian style, of course.  This is a very large project, and if it is meant to be, it will happen. Thank you for taking the time to read my stuff!
Peace!
Selling Venues: Sebastopol Farm Market Sebastopol, CA Sundays 10-1:30
                        www.urbanprairiegirl.etsy.com
                        www.upgfabricannex.etsy.com
Artist Contact info:  Susie Blair  _facebook
                              www.urbanprairiegirl.etsy.com
                              barefoot_one200@Yahoo.com
Social Media Links:  upgfabricannex on Instagram
Forever Grateful, Deadhead Art Alliance Team

Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – March –Courtney – Store – HempHugs

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Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – March –Courtney – Store – HempHugs

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Hemp Hugs

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Hi My name is Courtney, I’m 24 and my shop is Hemp Hugs which I started as an Etsy shop in October 2010. 

I consider my boyfriend Rich a member of Hemp Hugs too – we’ve been together a little

over 8 years & he’s been a huge part of making our business happen!

I mostly make hemp jewelry and Rich did wire wraps for about 2 years

and just recently started blowing glass.

 

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I remember being young and inspired by my aunt had always been into arts & crafts. For as long as I remember, she was

always making things for my cousins and I.  She would use fabric paint on shoes,

dresses, hats, shirts,etc for us and I LOVED them. I used to go over her house all the

time & make stuff with her.  My favorite thing to do was make beaded jewelry with

pony beads & elastic cord.

In high school I bought my first hemp necklace.  It was so plain & basic & I

remember thinking to myself  “I can do this, but make it look way cooler!”

I discovered etsy.com and found people making a living from making hemp jewelry.  One shop

in mind sticks out, Psysub Hemp on Etsy, I was SO inspired by their beautiful

jewelry it made me want to learn how to make my own style.  I went

to the craft store & bought a macrame book, some basic natural hemp, and called

the only friend I knew that actually knew anything about macrame and showed me

the basic flat knot and that was it.. from there I pretty much taught myself.  I discovered colored

hemp and went nuts from there.

I fell in love with macrame.

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My love for macrame started a new life for me.  From my first job working restaurants at

age 16 to the time I quit my last job at age 20, I worked at 7 different places (6 of

them were restaurants).  I had decided I no longer wanted to work for a corporate

business or really anyone but myself so Rich and I took a week

off work & went to a music festival where we talked to a couple food vendors who

said they hadn’t worked a ‘real job’ in 12 years.  They seemed so happy.  They got

to do what they wanted whenever they wanted AND got paid for it!  That was it for

me.  Over the next year, Rich & I saved our money to start our own small business.

In May of 2010, I was working 3 jobs, while Rich was a kitchen manager at a local

chain restaurant.  Neither of us were happy with what we were doing.  He went into

work one morning in a Grateful Dead t-shirt, turned his keys into the general

manager & basically said “i quit”.  I quit my job at 2 of the restaurants I was working

at, and a month later walked out of my job at a movie theater.  Best decision we

both ever made.

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Things changed for me after I went to my first music festival.

From that moment I was hooked. I loved

EVERYTHING about them..the music, the vibe, the art, the feeling of being

whoever you want & not being judged.  

Music is definitely one of my main inspirations. I am a huge fan of the Grateful Dead & have lots of GD

 inspired charms & pendants.  I’m also inspired by the other talented macrame artists out

there.  There’s a group on Facebook just for macrame artists to share tips, get

advice, trade supplies, and just encourage each other and it’s been a big

inspiration for me. 

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One of my greatest memories is of our very first time vending. It was Classic Fest 2010 at Nelson Ledges

Quarry Park. We had an EZ­up and 2 tables.

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One table had all of my jewelry.

I was even making hemp jewelry which I had scattered all over the table. No displays of any kind, just a

mess of jewelry and

some camping necessities like TP, flashlights, rain ponchos, etc. We also had

boxes of movie posters..from working at a movie theater, I got the advantage of taking

all the posters they got, otherwise they would just throw them away. Most of them

were awful movies that mostly never even made it to theaters lol. We barely made

enough money that weekend to cover our tickets to the event + vending fee. We

almost gave up on vending altogether after that.

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So glad we didn’t!

We now have a 20×30 setup right next to the stage at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, with at

least 6 tables FULL of merchandise, 6+ handmade necklace boards full of my

hemp jewelry, clothes racks, grid walls, display cases.. it’s truly amazing to see

how far we’ve come in a few years.

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Hemp Hugs expanded from being just

an online Etsy shop to a vending business, setting up at various music

festivals at our local venue, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park and recently we’ve also started

setting up at different concerts for a local Youngstown band, Jones for

Revival.

 

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As a hemp artist, I try to use the best quality of products available. I use 100%

natural hemp twine in a wide variety of colors. I have about 7 cases full of a variety

of beads (wood, glass, gemstone, ceramic, etc), pendants, charms, cabochons,

and other supplies. Trying to decide what to make is sometimes more of a

challenge than actually making something – lol.  I spend most of my time creating in my living room, either

listening to some music or watching shows & documentaries on Netflix.  

With the more intricate designs, I almost never plan it

out first.  I usually just pick out some colors & just go with the flow of what I feel fits

that piece just right.

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I have a small macrame board that I use to hold my piece in place while I create so Once I decide on a pendant or bead

I want to use, I match up the colors of hemp that I think would accent the piece(s)

well and then from there, I decide if I want to spend hours creating an intricate, one of a

kind piece or keep it simple. 

 

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We met our business partners, Gary & Lourie (local glassblowers

who have their own small business, Glass and Stuff) in 2012 and have been

vending music festivals with them ever since.

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This past November we all got together with two other friends, Zak & Whitney (they have a small business as

well called Estimated Prospect where they sell stones, crystals & minerals) and

we opened up a store here in Ohio called Higher Minds.  We all travel & vend

together at NLQP -Nelson Ledges Quary Park – every spring/summer.  Our goal is to support as many local

artists & small businesses as possible.  Our store Higher Minds is full of local

hand blown glass, my handmade hemp jewelry, handmade clothing, tie dyes,

tapestries, all natural beauty products (made here in Ohio), and so much

more and are mostly all from friends & local artists.  If it wasn’t for Rich & I starting up

Hemp Hugs & traveling to shows, Higher Minds would potentially not exist.

It’s basically 3 small businesses joined together as one.

 

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My favorite piece of art I’ve ever made is one I just recently made; a bracelet cuff that honestly blew my mind when I was

finished.  I had a labradorite cab & some matching beads set aside for months. I

knew I wanted to make something spectacular with them, but didn’t know what

until I recently learned a new macrame technique for wrapping stones. MANY

knots later, I was so impressed with what I had created, I got a little emotional

when I was done.

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My boyfriend, definitely helps keep me going when things get tough.

There have been countless times when I get myself down because maybe my Etsy sales have dropped a little from last month or for some

reason I don’t feel I’m doing my best….and he’s right there telling me otherwise,

assuring me that everything is ok.  Also my friends & family’s undying support of

what I do definitely keeps me going.

bFkkWuR0psuwelTJPrLneQvE9_qdzwaO5D_1PldvwJi0fvQyavkAAox07TNqigfrgrt1F84N4Cw8GWGF95aTqQkrhMm3A3rEIgSLonryNhmr5awNWXvX_UThxK2JxwkwbbX6imd_s3URIUEgX45OKdk3FgtT69jFm98JI98O_k0Kqk9rJeZdle1EFM1IhXi-J-azDgXrM1ozRY41IhxlMRIjw0

I’ve also found nature & being outdoors to be very inspiring. 

In my down time, when I’m not crafting, traveling, or working at the store I enjoy

just hanging out at home with my boyfriend & our animals (1 dog & 2 kitties) or

having a couple good beers with some friends (preferably around a campfire!)

-pIO3M-JMhB4_VGgyBaulO7C4lsfPInwufk2TL6zMUciXDqiiGOPh3PpcVfhY4YgCcKNZC0Sq6RmexEviIaCaj_07kU0CPNLiVVaOWSBfkUTKqlTLw0hJm6gxNSs5dJuuDk21f7HddDyD6vZFXt6NZTyT_lij42Pq5s02taGQv1yY-PYWikDZeyVDkaS0e6S19O4vbcms2KKZP08h07Ehkqq0g

 Nice to meet you!

 

favorite quotes

I have a lot of them!!!!

“if you get confused, listen to the music play”

“a box of rain will ease the pain & love will see you through”

“once in awhile you get shone the light in the strangest of places if you look at it

right”

“i’m gonna love the life I live & i’m gonna live the life I love”

oh boy lol.. so many stories come to mind, I would be typing for hours haha.

 

When asked…   Is there something about you as an artist that you would like the world to

know?  she said this

“I’m a self­ taught macrame artist with big dreams.  I never give up on something I’m

passionate about and I absolutely love what I do & will continue to push myself Furthur”

(~);}

I’m beyond grateful with how much our small business has grown. I only see it

getting bigger from here & hope to one day have Higher Minds stores across the

country and possibly even the world.  But for now, I couldn’t be happier with where

we are at 🙂

Selling Venues:

Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville,Ohio (every music festival from April-
October)

Clay’s Park in Canton, Ohio for the Ville Music Festival

I also have a lot of my hemp jewelry available at our store Higher Minds in

Champion, Ohio.

Artist Contact info:

e­mail cschin4200@yahoo.com

Social Media Links:

www.facebook.com/hemphugs

www.etsy.com/shop/hemphugs

instagram­ @hemphugs

 

Forever Grateful, Deadhead Art Alliance Team

Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – January –Selena Gribbin Barefoot – Store – aRecurringDream

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Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – January –Selena Gribbin Barefoot – Store – aRecurringDream

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Selena Photo Credit: Ashley Gribbin

Hello! My name is Selena and my shop is ‘a recurring dream‘. I am

a stay at home mom living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh with my husband and our

two children.

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My shop takes materials that are unwanted from my local

community and I have been making quality home goods and accessories,

and started adding clothing this year.

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As a young woman, I had sewn patchwork dresses, skirts, bags, purses,

etc for many years that I would vend at local concert lots and festivals.

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In my mid 20’s I wanted to move to the city and started working for a

young restaurant group. I grew into adulthood along side an innovative

and maturing local restaurant group that emphasized the importance of

farm to table food, craft beer and spirits, and embracing and utilizing

the individuality of each of its employees to its advantage. I spent a

decade managing restaurants for them.  The demanding schedule did

not afford me much time for sewing and once I started a family, I realized

the schedule did not allow much time for them either.

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So I said good-bye

to my home away from home and a couple of months later dusted off my

sewing machine and picked up a gig doing piece work for a local clothing

company to make money for Christmas. I slowly began finding and

unpacking my sewing items and making space for them in my home. Then

I started making gifts for people and trying to come up with ideas of items

to make with materials I had on hand, or could source inexpensively, and I

found myself building a small inventory of items.

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A new street fair started

that year and they were looking for vendors. I had just enough inventory

to send photos of my work along with the application and I was accepted

to vend the street fair, and started sewing A LOT in order to have enough

items to fill my vending spot!

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Vending regularly was not reasonable for me with my kids in tow, and I had

researched Etsy shops for months before opening my shop.  Once I started

I felt so lost!  I had zero experience with internet sales.  I tried finding teams

for support with little luck in the beginning, then,…. One of the articles in the Sellers Handbook

suggested using an interest as your search keyword when trying to find

a team.  I searched “patchwork” and that is how I found the DHAA and I

was thrilled!

This team has been such a source of knowledge and support

for me and has truly been a comforting support that has kept me on Etsy.

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I also never would have guessed that there would have been an online

market for patchwork clothes, but maybe that is just me showing my age.

I work mainly with up-cycled clothing and de-stash items that I collect from my

community. I have an overwhelmingly diverse stash of fabric, and it can

make it hard for me to focus on one project for a very long time.

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When I

get a new idea, I have no problem abandoning a project in progress to start

on a new item. I always have a collection of items in progress…sometimes

I go back and finish them, and sometimes I take them apart to use the

materials for something else. I rarely feel committed to finishing a project I

am no longer enjoying. I find inspiration from so many places in the world

around me. It sometimes surprises even me the things I will suddenly

decide need to be made next!

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I grew up with a very crafty mama who loved to sew and craft with

whatever materials we had on hand. She always encouraged us to try

new things and was never afraid of us getting dirty or making a mess. It

was a wonderful way to grow up. I was never allowed to use her machine,

but when I was a teenager and started showing interest, she was quick to

find me a hand me down machine to call my own.

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I taught myself how to

sew and quickly burned through a string of hand me down machines.  In

the height of my young adult sewing days my parents helped me purchase

a refurbished metal Singer machine.  I was always concerned about the

quality of my items and the following year my parents gifted me a serger.

Their support meant the world to me and I still sew on the same machines

today.  What a great investment they turned out to be…when I think of what

I have made on them it is almost unreal to me that they are still keeping up

with me!

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Making patchwork was a natural fit for me. When I started sewing, I

made a basic dress pattern and made a couple of simple a line dresses from

lightweight vintage curtains I had found at Goodwill. My friends mother

gave me a box full of scraps she had collected over her years of sewing,

and I decided to make a pattern for a patchwork dress for myself. As a

child I had often been mesmerized with Holly Hobbie’s beautiful apron,

and wanted a dress that was a grown up version of that amazing childhood

image. After some drafting and a lot of math…I did it! I couldn’t believe

that I had actually made it! It is still my favorite item I have ever made.

I made well over 50 dresses from this pattern and never upgraded my

personal dress from that original, and I look forward to handing it down to

my girls. I have always been so proud of it, and I am hoping to revive the

pattern this Spring.

dhaaselenastoreshothttps://www.etsy.com/shop/aRecurringDream

My children are the most amazing force to have ever touched my life. I

am a very active parent, and enjoy my time with them immensely. I am

also committed to my community, and spend time volunteering at my

children’s schools, helping with coat and food drives, and volunteering at

our community garden.

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Our community garden is one of my favorite places

to be!  In addition to our own plots, my husband, children and I spend a

lot of time helping to tend the common grounds, and tending the donation

garden. All of the harvest from the donation garden benefits our neighbors

through our local food pantry.

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My family and I also love taking advantage

of all of wonderful things Pittsburgh has to offer. Pittsburgh is a beautiful

and exciting city, and we particularly love our time spent at the Carnegie

Museums and all of the surrounding State Parks. The woods are truly my

home. I like to be busy and active, and I am never at a loss for things to do

in my area.

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I always loved vending at festivals and shows, and I was excited when I

started vending at the Artisan Market in the Strip District neighborhood of

Pittsburgh this year. I love people, and love getting to talk to people about

my work. I find having an internet shop to be so isolating, and it is always

nice to come face to face with someone who truly appreciated what you are

creating.

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Music has always held an important role in my life. My father is very

passionate about music and ensured it was part of our daily lives. He took

me to my first concerts, and to many more later in life. The concert that left

the biggest impression was attended when I was about maybe 12 years

old. It was a music festival at Camp Lejeune Naval Base during Operation

Desert Storm. The energy in the crowd was unlike anything I had ever

experienced. I remember that Chicago was the headliner and that Sinbad

was the MC for the event. It was my first experience seeing how music

could bring people together and give them hope, joy and a strong sense of

togetherness.  When I first moved to the city in my early 20’s, there was an amazing

theater that had live music almost every night. I went there just about

every evening, I didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else. Some night

they had national acts, sometimes they would even have high school kids

who raised enough money to rent the theater to play for their friends and

family, and everything in between.  Often times the younger bands playing

were my favorite nights. They always played with a passion that I truly

appreciated.

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My favorite quote is by an author named Richard Bach from No Such Place

as Far Away.

“Not being known doesn’t stop the truth from being true.”

                                                                      Richard Bach

This resonates deeply with me. It is a simple statement of truth that I feel is

too often overlooked.

This past year I have had opportunities to do so many things that I never

would have imagined. I have made my first full size quilts, I have started

making bereavement items to console the families who have lost love ones,

and have written my first tutorial to be published in a national magazine this

Spring. It has been such a whirlwind and I am looking forward to what lies

ahead.

Selena: A Recurring Dream Vending  by John Colombo Photography

Selena: A Recurring Dream Vending by John Colombo Photography

“Many thanks to all of you who have supported me on this journey”  Selena

Artist Contact info:

aRecurringDream.com

selena@aRecurringDream.com

Social Media Links:

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/aRecurringDream

Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/arecurringdream/

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/_RecurringDream

Wanelo:
http://wanelo.com/arecurringdream

Forever Grateful, Deadhead Art Alliance Team

Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – October – Amanda Johnson– Store – TyeDyeBills

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I am the creator of Tye Dye Bills, my name is Amanda Johnson

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I make most of the tie dyes, tapestries and bed sheet sets (nature inspired are my favorite) and do the portrait drawings, as well as hand make the other grateful gear.

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My team consists of myself and my husband who occasionally makes tie dyes (he has a very groovy style), rinses my bins and is sole owner and namesake of our shop name (tye dye bill was a name given to him during his on the road days), and my children who are the reason I create and sell on Etsy.

Tie dye is our passion.  Our Creations are brought to life through parenthood, love of all things tie dye and the Grateful Family we have come to know and love after all these years.  We love sharing our art, love and soul with others.

Each item contains a moment of our lives, a piece of our hearts, part of our souls. When
you purchase our creations, you are buying moments of frustration and days, weeks,
years of pure joy.  You are not just buying things, but rather creating more time for us to make things we are passionate about.
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The creative process happens in our home studio. All tie dyes are folded, tied and dyed
by hand. Tapestries are hand cut from quality medium weight, tightly woven, cotton fabric
and double stitched before folding and dyeing. We use only quality 100% cotton and fiber
reactive dyes. Dyes used are professional grade that creates a marriage between the
dye and cotton fibers during the tie dye process. All items are pre-­washed, rinsed after
dyeing, washed with a professional textile detergent to ensure dyes are bonded and
excess dyes are removed, then washed again. Items are dried in the sunshine on the line
when weather permits or fluffed in the dryer.

Everything is handmade with love, created in a smoke free and cat friendly home.

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I’ve created art for as long as I can remember.  Art teachers were pivotal in my
development as an artist.  The first tie dye I made was at summer camp when I was 8
years old.  I’ve loved tie dye for a very long time.  My kids were the driving force behind
starting my own business.  I quit my job as the manager of a small, family owned
business to start my own family.  I knew I would stay home to raise my children, the extra
income from selling tie dyes and more recently my drawings, helps support our family.  It
has proven to be challenging to find a suitable balance for my family, finding time to work
and create things I am passionate about and still take care of my home.  I created a little
play space for my children in my studio, complete with toys, an easel and desk for them to
make their own masterpieces while I work. They love being in my art space and
eventually they will help out with our business too!
I remember watching my Nan crochet blankets when I was little and my Grandma do
needlepoint.  While I never got into either craft, I remember seeing my Nan’s painted
ceramics around the house and my own first interest was probably painting because of
that.

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Drawings by Amanda credit: treesandtents.blogspot.com

My favorite piece I have ever made is the drawing named A Penny for Your Thoughts. It is A
drawing of my dear friend Houd (short for Houdini, his nickname) who died in March
2013.  A beautiful soul.  Our shop will be seeing more portraits in the future, I am very
excited about this and have been approached about orders already!What inspires me most to create is Parenthood, the love of all things tie dye and the Grateful Family we have come to know and

love

after all these years has inspired us the most. My portrait drawings are pure
inspiration from the beautiful souls that once walked our earth. I believe our loved ones
deserve to be honored and not forgotten and my portrait drawings do just that.

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I love working with color and really enjoy making tie dye I love. Craft shows and festivals
are also a favorite part of business. Being on the scene and selling things I love to make
while having a great time and meeting great people! The same goes for drawing portraits
of our dear loved ones, uncovering their story, discovering what made them special and
the impact they made on this earth before they left.

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A sale always comes through when we need it most. I am a stay at home mama so every
penny counts. Believing in ourselves and that our talents will get us through seems to do
the trick! We keep our friends close and our little family closer when times are tough.
Someone has always got our back. We’d like to believe God and our Universe is in
control of everything and we are just tiny specks. We listen to the still, small voice and
have faith.

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During what spare time we have we love to camp and be outdoors. Spending time with
friends while enjoying nature is our favorite. Frequenting music festivals is another fond
past time. As our kids get older it will allow for more fun music festivals to explore
together. We can always find inspiration in our little family to keep on keepin’ on.

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The first epic music festival that changed my life was Grateful Fest at Nelsons Ledges. I
had not previously been to such a large festival, it had a wonderful lineup of musicians
and wonderful crowd of people amidst the beauty of the forest. It was truly a break
through for me. I can’t wait to experience that particular festival again someday.

❀❀❀

Tell the world Amanda,  Is there something about you as an artist or is there something that you would like the world to know?

“Forget about all the reasons why it won’t work and believe in the reason why it will!  My

mantra for myself when I make something or have an idea that I think no one will want or

love. If you believe in it, someone else will too.”

                                                                                                     Amanda Johnson

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We are Super excited about the future of our shop!  As our children grow and can help more with
the shop we will be offering more tapestries and bed sheet sets.  I will also be expanding
my portrait drawing and taking custom orders.  Someday we hope to open a brick and
mortar shop, which is a ways off.  We believe in living our dreams, its the only way to
make them come true.

favorite quote

“We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too.”     ­

Author Unknown

Selling Venues

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TyeDyeBills

Artist Contact info: Amanda Johnson ­ http://treesandtents.blogspot.com/

Social Media Links: https://www.facebook.com/TyeDyeBills

Sales happening: Black Friday Sale upcoming and flash sales are announced on our

facebook page from time to time.

Forever Grateful, Deadhead Art Alliance Team