Craft Contexts, Maker's Remarks

Pauli Ochi of Ochi Gallery & Shop

Pauli Ochi Jewelry, Arrowhead Ring

{ Pauli Ochi Jewelry; photo credit: Tessa Sheehan }

It’s that time, folks! We haven’t had a Maker’s Remarks post here on Westervin in over a year (sad face), but today is the day for a new installment (jubilent face)! As I mentioned last week, Pauli Ochi (see: Ochi Gallery, Ochi Shop, and her line of handcrafted jewelry) kindly answered a few (and them some) questions about her jewelry, her creative process, and her daily life running a gallery & shop in awe-inspiring Sun Valley, Idaho. She’s really a fascinating woman! Let’s read up:

Pauli Ochi making jewelry

What materials do you use for creating your necklaces, and why do you prefer to work with them?

I’ll use anything that catches my eye: semi-precious stones, vintage pieces that I re-work, occasionally different fabrics. Right now I’m having a throwback interest to seed beads, which I used when I was a kid. I took a long break from them because they can be so tedious, but I’m in a mood to embrace the challenge.

Where do you find inspiration for your necklace designs?

Mainly through material. I’ll spend hours in the fashion district when I go to NY, or in bead stores anywhere I travel, or perusing the internet for colors and textures that look interesting.

Pauli Ochi Jewelry: multicolor crystal rings

Do you have an intended wearer in mind when you make your necklaces?

Definitely. I design for the girl/woman who can pull off statement pieces but still look casual. She loves both jewelry and art and has an appreciation for things that are handmade and all their imperfections. It’s important for me to keep my ideal wearer in mind because it keeps me focused on the final product. Sometimes I move on to a new piece before I finish the last one!

Why do you choose to make things by hand?

I think it has a lot to do with growing up in a gallery surrounded by people who consider the art-making process and who appreciate things made by hand.

Pauli Ochi Jewelry: handmade statement necklaces

{ photo credit: Tessa Sheehan }

As a person who makes jewelry by hand and runs an art gallery, do you have an opinion on the common but complex distinction made between art and craft?

I’ll respect good art, and I’ll respect good craft. I don’t think I worry too much about the distinction. In fact I think Ochi Shop is a place that embraces both art and craft without seeking to define them.

I’m afraid I’ve never been to Idaho. Should I visit?

Yes Idaho is amazing. The town I live in, Sun Valley, is literally awe inspiring, not to sound too cheesy.

Sun Valley Idaho by Baron Von Fancy

{ Sun Vally, Idaho, Bar Von Fancy }

Tell me about the art you select for Ochi Gallery and the items you select for Ochi Shop.

My parents started Ochi Gallery almost 40 years ago. I’ve inherited working with some really accomplished artists who have had long careers, which in the art world means real perseverance. I try to hold any new artists I bring into our program, or into the shop, to the same standard; that is, they have to be both talented and truly committed to their vision.

Is there a type of work you’re most excited to promote through your gallery or shop?

I love work with a conceptual edge or a sense of humor. And of course I love work that is inspiringly beautiful, where the artist considered everything from material to process to final product. I’m always most excited to promote the work of artists who have the personality as well as the talent.

Baron Von Fancy at Ochi Gallery

{ Baron Von Fancy’s “This Must Be the Place” at Ochi Gallery }

Can you pick a favorite of the exhibitions you’ve curated?

Probably not! Some are more fun and come together more smoothly than others, but working with different artists sometimes means having completely different jobs. I’ve found myself doing the most random things in the name of art. I’ve had to figure out how to move several tons of sand into the gallery, I’ve helped select models for a performance piece, I’ve even dug in the snow for an outdoor installation. My favorite is always the one I’m working on. For instance, right now I’m obsessed with Baron Von Fancy’s “This Must Be the Place,” and Erin Rachel Hudak’s “My Nature / Your Nature.”

Erin Rachel Hudak at Ochi Gallery

{ meet me here, mountains, Erin Rachel Huduk }

What do you most look forward to when you start each day?

That’s such a good question because I always think about that quote “how you start the day is how you live your life.” I look forward to my morning runs outside and to whatever creative project I’m working on (because there’s always something!) This morning, for instance, I was looking forward to peeking at the Dropbox folder my lookbook photographer, Tessa Sheehan, sent me!

Seen any good movies lately?

I thought Starlet, starring Dree Hemmingway, was surprisingly good. We just watched Searching for Sugarman, which is a crazy story. That was a good documentary. Lately though, I’m kind of into Netflix’s original series.

Pauli Ochi Jewelry: handmade statement necklaces

{ photo credits: Tessa Sheehan }

Maker's Remarks

Arlie Trowbridge of Urban Revisions

Oh man. I’m excited. Why? Because I’m about to share my mini interview with Arlie Trowbridge, the stupidly talented woman behind Urban Revisions. I’ve loved her work for ages now! Arlie was sweet enough to answer a few questions — some silly, some serious — for the latest installment of my Maker’s Remarks series. And the timing couldn’t be better, because she’s just released her Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Oh how these sherbet colored pieces make me wanna run outside and chase an ice cream truck!

handmade glass and leather purses by Urban Revisions

How did Urban Revisions start? Did you have a “quit your day job to start an Etsy shop” sort of moment?

Urban Revisions started in early 2009 by accident. I had just started getting into reading fashion blogs and the DIY shredded t-shirt craze was in full effect. I gave it a try and was immediately addicted to the process of “revising” the most basic article of clothing – a tee. My friend started modeling them in “urban” settings around Richmond, and the Etsy shop was born. Shortly after my first couple of sales, I was awarded a fellowship by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Couldn’t have been better timing. This allowed me to “quit my day job” and really pursue selling my work.

Arlie Trowbridge of Urban Revisions

Your shredded T-shirts are so unique, and it seems like your beautiful glass jewelry requires a lot of skill to create. What’s the inspiration for your pieces and the process for making them?

There’s no doubt that I love things with an organic feel to them. Almost anything that I’ve ever created and really loved came about by accident… there’s something really special about working with glass and distressed fiber. You can melt and shred forever until something amazing comes about. In the end, everything always has this delicate look but in actuality, cotton and glass have really strong qualities.

shredded cotton scarf in orange sherbet

Would you say you’re more of an urbanite or a nature-lover? Or a perfect mixture of both?

Both! I’ve lived in or very close to a city the majority of my life. I need to be near the sound of people’s hustle and bustle but I also need our long camping trips in the middle of no where and our afternoons hanging down by the James River.

shredded cotton t-shirt from Urban Revisions

What’s a typical day in the life of Arlie Trowbridge? Take us through a brief snapshot of your day, from morning to night?

Wake up, stumble to the coffee pot, fill the largest mug available, stumble to the studio and slowly open my eyes over emails and blogs.
Thats the first step, and then it’s either …

a. start shredding
b. start torch working
c. start dyeing
< or >
d. start day dreaming

I’m really all over the place, and it feels awesome.

handmade glass cluster rings from Urban Revisions

Would you rather have the ability to breathe underwater or the ability to fly? Explain.

Breathe underwater!!! In fact, this is something I’ve dreamt about many times. I spent many days at our local pool pretending to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid when I was little. Some people have commented on my cluster rings and leaf earrings, saying they remind them of coral. I love that. Marine life is fascinating.

handmade shredded t-shirt from Urban Revisions

What’s your favorite part of creating & selling your handicrafts?

The people I have had the pleasure to “meet”! The internet is such a powerful tool. Knowing that there are ladies all over the world wearing Urban Revisions is incredible to me.

handmade glass cluster ring from Urban Revisions

BTDubs, if you’ve read through this interview, you’ve got a special treat coming. You can enter Arlie’s giveaway on Facebook to win the spectacular glass cluster ring pictured above. Get on over there and enter!

Maker's Remarks

Maker’s Remarks: Sarah Newby

Nail & Thread necklace by Sarah Newby

I’m positively thrilled to share our latest Maker’s Remarks interview. This time, I get to share the beautiful work of my super talented new friend and classmate, Sarah Newby. Sarah is debuting her new shop Newby Treasury with a line of jewelry made from wrapped jute rope and old nails. Separately, you might not think these items would make for a beautiful necklace, but combined using Sarah’s skilled hand and eye, the end result is a work of quiet elegance.

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Maker's Remarks

Maker’s Remarks: Debbie Carlos

{ Black Mountain }

While looking for a new photo print for our bedroom that was both large and affordable, I came across this crazy cool Mountains poster by one Debbie Carlos. I just had to have it, and how (!), so I messaged Debbie to make sure I could get it quickly. I’m about as patient as a spoiled kid on Christmas Eve. I also wanted it as part of a mini apartment facelift before our first wedding guest arrived. But mostly, I just wanted it now! Debbie turned out to be very accommodating. So sweet, in fact, that I thought, “Gee. I bet she’s a lovely, interesting person, and I sure would love to learn more about her and feature her gorgeous work on our blog.” So that’s what I did! Debbie kindly agreed to participate in our Maker’s Remarks series and has answered a few questions about her work, her life, and her inner crab.

{ Lake }

Your photos seem to express a love of nature. How do you find things to shoot despite living in a big city?

I don’t often take pictures of the city itself, choosing to focus more on the home and the quiet surprising/beautiful moments that happen sometimes. But Chicago is great in terms of greenery. There are tons of parks and  preserves within the city limits that I often shoot in. I also tend to take the most photographs when I’m traveling.

{ Woods }

Do you have any current or upcoming creative projects that you’re excited about?

I’m collaborating on a project with my brother, who is an amazing graphic designer based out of Minneapolis. He designed the award winning catalog for Yves Klein’s traveling exhibition and is senior designer at the Walker Art Center so you know this is going to be good! We are finalizing the design and about to go into production. It should be making its debut at this year’s Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago!

What’s your spirit animal?

The Dancing Crab

{ Blue Egg }

You also have a food blog! Can you share one of your favorite recipes with us?

Since it is summer, I feel like I must share with you the recipe for Watermelon Shake! Its a take on a Mexican Agua Fresca but its name is a shout out to my Filipino background (we call our blended fruit drinks shakes even though there is no dairy in them).

Watermelon Shake

Watermelon, cubed
Cold Water
Lime juice
Sweetener (Sugar, Agave Syrup, Honey, Splenda etc)

Use about a  4:1 ratio of watermelon to water. Pulse in a blender and taste. If its too watery, add more watermelon or add water if mixture seems too stiff. Add a small pinch of salt and season with lime juice and sweetener to taste.

* to make this a little boozy add some tequila

{ Gradient / Jade }

And you make jewelry? How do you balance all of your creative drives?

I feel like I always need to have a project going on. I think if I sit still for too long or if nothing is on the horizon, I get really anxious. I also think its really great and healthy to change it up a bit every once in awhile. If I get tired of working on photos, I know I can go and work on some jewelry.  If I get tired of both, maybe I can go into the kitchen and have a cooking project. There are a lot of things that I’d like to be able to do that just don’t happen and thats ok and sometimes it does get overwhelming but I kind of wing it based on mood. Its always good to have something going on.

Maker's Remarks

Maker’s Remarks: Behida Dolić

{ Little Gray Hat }

Last week’s Millinery class was fun and fruitful, but I’m afraid my freshly blocked hat isn’t quite ready for sharing. Luckily, I have something even better! A chat with one of my favorite contemporary milliners, Behida Dolić. Behida, who has been crafting exquisite hats for close to a decade, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions for our second Maker’s Remarks feature. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

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Maker's Remarks

Maker’s Remarks:Teresa Robinson & Lynn Russell

Earth & Sky necklace

As promised,we’ve got a new series to debut, and I must say I’m as pleased as punch with what we have to show. Maker’s Remarks will be a recurring post, wherein we feature the work of artists, crafters, illustrators, designers, and all around makers, along with a hint of insight into their colorful characters. With a few interview questions, some serious and some less so, we’ll add a little bit of context to a lot of great work.

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