Ashley Smith: The Five Question Interview

Ashley with “Hunter T” and “Poe”

Ashley Smith and her husband Kyle opened The Clever Tiger on June 14th, 2018. Their vision is to serve, inspire, and lead in the  growth and sustainment of the art community. In less than two years it has become a natural community hub for art events and art activities for adults and children.

Ashley is a painter and ceramic sculpture artist. Her husband Kyle is a custom framer and woodworker. They live near downtown Elgin with their three daughters.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I grew up in Elgin, moved away, and then moved back 2 different times.  In total, I have lived in Elgin for about 20 years but only started getting to know the community after opening the local gallery.  Before this, I spent so much time commuting that I was never able to spend time enjoying Elgin.  As a child, my parents commuted to Austin for work, I went to primary school in Round Rock, and as an adult, I traveled to Austin and San Antonio for work and college. 

“Good Witch” 18×24 Acrylic on wood

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

Creating is the one talent that I have always been confident of.  Before creating art full-time, I helped create products, projects, business plans, etc.  I find that teaching actually propels my creating by forcing consistent practice and designing lesson plans for a variety of ages and skill levels.

“Lit” 12×16 in. Acrylic on canvas

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Children are the most creative souls around and if we do not nurture this creativity, they are in danger of losing it. 

If you tap into your deepest emotions and “failures”, creating leads to inspiration and deeper thought for others.

You can only grow if you push boundaries and try something you never have before. 

“Thom Yorke” 4’x4′ Acrylic on wood panel

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Currently, I am working on  a painting series of old Elgin, Texas buildings, a new portrait series, and beginning work on my next solo exhibition (re-defining the works of masters.)  While painting, I mostly listen to Thom Yorke, Mars Volta, and anything that help tap into the vibe of the specific piece.  

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie. I prefer homemade pie to any cake in existence. I love making apple pie, and wish blueberry was much more prevalent.  

@artby_ashsmith
theclevertiger.com
@theclevertiger

Fifteen Years & Counting

I cannot believe I started this blog 15 years ago today.

Bean & Noodle started as a Typepad blog in 2005 and is now a blog + online shop for my letterpress cards and silverware.

There are many reasons people blog. Some people blog in hopes of landing a fat book deal. Others blog about specific subjects and somehow become regarded as experts in the field. Some may actually have the expertise to back it, some just have experiences to share and a voice that makes people listen. Artists, designers and stylists blog because it’s a super user friendly way to show their work instead of a website.

Why did I start blogging? 

Mine is a more personal reason. I started blogging to share my life with the women in my family… most importantly, at that time, my mother who I met in 2004. My sister and I were reunited with our mother who had given us up for adoption in the 1970s. We had spent the three years prior to adoption with an amazing foster family, with whom we have always remained in contact. We had not seen my mother since I was almost 5, and my sister was almost 2. When my sister found her, we traveled to New Jersey to visit her for a week. We knew she’d been a musician and artist (my parents were folk musicians in the 1960s… I was born in ’65, my sister in ’67). We discovered that she had been a weaver.

This struck a chord with me as I had always been drawn to textiles and had no idea why. My sister shares our mother’s love and talent for photography. I taught myself to knit when I returned home and have been knitting almost daily since. I feel I am tapping into some genetic memory every time I pick up my needles and yarn to knit.

I won’t go into much more detail, because this story belongs to my sister as much as it belongs to me. I mention it only to shed a little light on why it was so important for me to embark on, what seemed to me the ultimate narcissistic endeavour. I mean who really gives a shit if I finally finished my alpaca shawl and that after a long, crappy day only the comfort of a simple roast chicken and mashed potatoes would feel like a hug?

I can count on one hand the number of people who do.

Facebook and Instagram lured me away from here for a while, but this past year I have found I like sharing here more than ever. I’m no writer, but I like to write and share things that I find funny, beautiful, or helpful. It’s also fun to look back at older posts. If you follow the link at the end of this post to my first ever blog posts…. you’ll find I still blog about knitting, cooking, and digging in the dirt.

Today I realize the real reason I started blogging was to show Toni that I have a good life. I am happy, have a wonderful husband, dogs and cats, that I am creating stuff all the time. That her decision did not destroy our lives.

And I pray every day that it did not destroy hers.

P.S. Check out my first ever post here

Lee Charlton: The Five Question Interview

Lee Charlton is the artist/owner at Felting Farmer Lady where she creates sculptures with wool, spins, and knits. She also sells hand-dyed fibers, roving, and handspun yarns for other fiber enthusiasts.

She lives on a small homestead farm in Central Texas with her husband and a host of critters.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Bastrop County in 1985 along with a group of friends when we found a most beautiful spot of land in the western part of the county.  It just happened to be in the Elgin ISD.  We raised 3 children here, all of whom attended the Elgin public schools.  In 2005 we bought a sweet little farm just south of Elgin which we share with 2 sheep, a pig, 3 donkeys, an old bull, 4 dogs and a cat.  The farm welcomes all sorts of visitors and especially the grandchildren.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I am not one that holds still well and love when my hands are busy.  Taking wool and creating beauty just fills my heart, it’s plain and simple.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I have always done crafty things but until I retired in 2011, had never attempted an art form that needed to be developed over time.  In the last five years I have learned to keep at it over and over and over again until what is in my mind communicates with what my hands create and the result pleases me. I have learned how to run a small business, all sorts of social media promotional stuff that is a pain but necessary and tackled creating a website which I am quite proud of.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Hmmm, I have to divide my time between creating product for my on-line business (I sell wool to others who do needle felting and spinning so process a lot of raw wool by washing and dyeing) and my own creating.  Needle felting is creating sculptures with wool.  I also spin yarn, knit and most recently, have dived into botanical printing. Botanical printing is a process that draws out the tannins from leaves onto wool/silk and cotton fabrics.  I use natural dyes to modify these prints as well.

This time of year I am busy planning upcoming workshops, doing taxes and all the fiddly stuff one has to do. I have several large projects swirling in my head that I want to tackle this year.  Spring will be a lovely time to get started.

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie! A good apple pie is the essence of life.

feltingfarmerlady.com
@feltingfarmerlady
Facebook

Emma Clark: The Five Question Interview

Emma in her home studio

Emma Clark is the artist/owner of Ferret & Fern where she creates nature-inspired illustrations and handmade accessories, responsibly crafted to minimize environmental impact.

Keeping with her love of nature, Emma tries to source her materials as responsibly as possible. Using ethically sourced fabrics, or second-hand fabric from clothing, fabric, and remnants when she can find them. 

She makes her own natural dyes, sourced or grown locally when possible, and also uses non toxic printing inks.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Elgin initially because we could afford a place downtown, being able to walk to shops and bars was really important to me. Having lived here a while though, I realise how much Elgin has to offer in the way of community and life style! Small town life is definitely the way forward 😊

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

This is a hard one… I don’t think I could name any one thing, if I don’t create anything I get itchy and anxious. I find the process of creating intellectually challenging and incredibly rewarding. Making something beautiful from a simple idea is the best feeling! 

Turmeric Dyed Organic Silk Scarf

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

How to open myself up to people to build new and better friendships. That owning a dog is just as amazing as I thought it would be! That I make art for myself and not for others.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Original art for “It’s Hot in Texas” print

 I’m making a crochet cardigan, I’m reading a book called Overstory, and watching Carnival Row and Picard

5. Cake or Pie?

Cake vs sweet pie – cake! Cake vs savoury pie – pie!

ferretandfern.com
Etsy shop
@ferretandfern

The Company of Women

We are not all here for this shot, but from left to right are; Emily, Stacey, Martha & Emma.

I can’t beleive it’s been a whole year! This weekend She Creates Union participated as a group in the Elgin Art Studio Tour. This time last year Emma and I were hatching an idea for a group for women makers and artists whose sole function was to fully support each member creatively while helping each other navigate branding, social media, marketing, and general business best practices.

I remember talking it up with Emily (www.paintbrushprintcompany.com) while were both doing demos that weekend at G&M Drygoods.

Community

While there are groups like BossBabesATX that organize events and meet-ups in Austin, we were interested in forming a more intimate community in our small town just 19 miles east of Austin and the neighboring towns like Paige, Bastrop, amd Lexington. We particpate here in local events and will be expanding our efforts later this year to markets in Austin and Pflugerville.

Since we formed SCU we have participated in one large festival, an art studio tour, and a couple pop-up shops. We meet once a month and talk about things we’ve been thinking about doing, things we’ve done, and generally cheer eachother on.

Whether at our monthly meeting or via our Slack channel, there is always some nudging, sometimes gently, sometimes not, eachother to raise our prices. We generally suck at pricing our work, but we’re getting better.

I recently saw this quote, “You’re priceless, your work is not.” I cannot find where I saw this yet, but wil link when I do.

Always Learning

To say we’ve all learned a lot in the past year would be an understatement. We are constantly investigating and learning as individuals and bringing our acquired knowledge to the group. Sometimes these fact finding misssions look like sitting in a sales tax class, taking an online course, or visiting a craft market or festival. It’s all learning.

A Small Windfall of Tomatoes & Knowledge

windfall-tomatoes

Assorted cherry tomatoes from Little Bluestem Farm, San Marcos, Texas.

I wish I could say these cherry tomatoes are from my own garden, but my teeny crop of four plants could never produce such a bounty as this in just one harvest. These tomatoes hail from a farm that a friend (and fellow productioneer) owns with her husband and two daughters. Shoot, I meant to oven dry these last night.

This podcast on developing a Pinterest strategy is very helpful and chockfull of  good ideas. Guest Megan Auman’s idea that Pinterest is an amazing way for a a small business to create a lifestyle magazine (for free) for their brand made perfect sense to me. I love that she suggests creating specific detailed customer profiles with names. I imagine it’s a bit like a novelist creating a character for a novel. What’s her name? Age? Favorite color? Where does she vacation? What does she wear? I know it sounds maybe a little bit creepy, but I think it would be a fun exercise if nothing else. The use of imagination and profile building appeals to me. To be 100% honest, I’m surprised by how much I liked this sharing of ideas. I don’t normally gush about podcasts about marketing strategies, but I found this one so very interesting. Click here to see Elise’s whole catalogue of podcasts… also enjoy her blog. I do.