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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting to know you - Orin Drake

I've found a bunch of lovely people to interview over on Artfire. Here is the first of them, Orin, who is very aptly named considering she makes some pretty cool beaded dragons! Here is what she has to tell you/us.

Your name
Orin Drake :: site ::

Where in the world are you?
Just outside of Boston, Massachusetts--but outside enough so that going into Boston quite literally feels like another world. *Twilight Zone music*

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I am completely insane and therefore cannot say no to new projects that involve shiny things. Thus far I regularly make beaded, bead woven and chainmaile jewelry, plush critters ("stuffed animals"), crocheted critters (of mostly the geeky variety), clay sculpture, wire sculpture, slightly less regularly make masks and treasure boxes, and right now I am delving into leather work, needle felting and costume making. And perhaps, it fate gets it way, I may be making action figures and puppets some day as well.

Who or what inspires you?
Absolutely everything! I know, it's a terribly cliched answer. I constantly find myself going back to what might actually be my "original inspiration", Jim Henson and his incredibly vivid imagination. I also get an amazing amount of inspiration from video games, in which I proudly participate. Music has always been and always will be a creative inspiration to me. There's also a pretty decent level of "I wonder what would happen if I mixed this with this", which often inspires its own monsters.

When / how did you learn?
My first introduction to crafting was my mother teaching me simple crocheting. I wish I could say that I knew how it all went from there, but I remember ravenously going through crayons, colored pencils, watercolors--whatever I could get my hands on. Art class was always a magnificent thing, being exposed to mediums I still enjoy using like clay and stained glass.

Why do you 'bother' to make things by hand?
I can't imagine not, honestly. It's how I "deal" with my creativity, getting to make things. It's my stress relief, my therapy, and my absolute joy to come to the end of a project and think, "Wow, I did that. I'm not sure I ever want to do that again." Of course I do usually wind up making similar things to what I've done before, but I need that period of forgetting just how difficult something was, first. Er, back to the question--it's just what I do and what I enjoy. And I sort of had to start making things out of the shiny objects I regularly hoard.

What is your craft ”philosophy”?
If it makes you happy, do it. I know this doesn't sound like a craft philosophy, but really it is. I hear of a lot of people who really want to try something but get intimidated. Don't let that happen! Honestly, yes, there's a good chance your first try will stink. A lot. But that's what a "demo" is for--then you start learning and doing better.

Fondest craft-related memory?
At least most recently, that would have to be actually finishing Andrew (my first but certainly not last plush dragon). I bought a sewing machine in part to help make him, and wound up using it for maybe 25% of all of the sewing for Andrew's form. The rest was by hand. Entirely. Like the wings. It took days and my hands ached but I was just so proud when I managed to finish him, and I still pet him and say hello every time I walk by. I didn't say it was a good story.

Have you always made 'stuff'?
As far back as I can remember. If it wasn't some really abstract "spirally thing" made of yarn then it's some sculpture taking a month or more. Even when I'm answering e-mail at the computer there's always something off to the side to work on. I'm making "stuff" right now between questions, actually.

Can you reveal a little about your creative process?
I never really know how to explain it because I never know what actually happens. Sometimes I have a vague idea, pick up materials and just "go", and other times... the idea isn't there in the beginning at all. There have been times when I've seen a piece of really expensive jewelry and thought, "I can do that"; then I wind up liking my piece better (go figure). I'm sure that I take from things I've seen before, but I can't always identify the sources.

How do you motivate yourself?
I don't think I know how not to be motivated. Yes, there are days when I just plain do not feel like doing anything but relaxing with some video games... but they're pretty rare. I just make things, it's just what I do. I don't think I know any differently.

How do you deal with crafty mistakes?
A mistake is just an opportunity to see how creative you really are. *grin* There have been mistakes. I have never ever thrown anything out due to a mistake--it just becomes more interesting, or something else. I cannot find any excuse not to make use of a mistake.

Favourite craftbook(s)?
I am but a poor artist, I don't have access to many books at all. But I will say that the book Bazaar Bizarre had me in laugh-tears when I found the "Dirty Pillow: Cherry Pie" cross stitch project. (It's a Warrant joke. Now I feel old.)

Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you?
Technically, yes; I have over time taken over the whole of the boiler room. It used to be just a desk... "things happened". I've been in the process of rearranging and cleaning it up, which is horrifying to me because it takes away crafting time--but I guess that's okay if I'm actually making it easier to craft. There will still be a necessary sense of chaos in which to work. Generally, though, I can work anywhere. My computer desk is my second craft space and it works out just fine.

Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
Nope, not a thing. If I'm doing a commission and it absolutely requires a sketch, then I'll make one. Otherwise I'll just make a demo with actual beads or something similar. I do not like to plan.

Why is crafting good for you?
It keeps me out of trouble. Really, can you imagine all of this creative energy with no constructive outlet? Not pretty.

Is your art/ craft a business as well? Any advice on running an arty/ crafty business?
Well, I sure am trying. I've been able to afford that sewing machine, as I've said, and have been able to keep up when it comes to supplies... but I doubt I need to mention the slow down in everyone's sales due to the economy. In general I like to try and make affordable, fun things when I can, but I understand how hard it is to spend money on something not absolutely necessary right now. It's tough for everyone, especially those new to selling, and that's really unfortunate.

My advice: you've got to keep doing what you love to do. I swear, the love comes through in your crafts, and people will respond. Not everyone is going to love what you do, but someone will fall in love with what you've put your time and effort into. And don't be timid! Humility is a good thing, but it's okay to know you do good work. Honestly, the technicalities of the business are not as important as what's at the heart of it.

What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
Well, that's really how I get to share my craft! I haven't found that "regular" craft shows are really worth my time, and though I am attending an anime convention this year as an artisan/seller, really it's the internet wher I can market my crafts.

Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
I would say both. There's an art to the craft. I'd say it's all individual interpretation, really, as art is--but to say that there's not art in a craft seems like a ridiculous statement. Of course there's art in it, in the curve of a wire, in the colors selected, in the pose or the poise or the emotion of a piece.

If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or even skill, what would it be?
A mobile "life-sized" animatronic dragon. Absolutely. Perhaps two stories tall complete with wings, "flesh" and scales, and all of it able to move and be puppeted in a rather Henson-esque way. Who knows? It could happen.

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