Our featured artist this week is Alyce, the woman behind the Etsy shop Fabric Greetings. Alyce combines her artistry and sewing wizardry to make fabulous quilted fabric postcards, ACEOs and pillowcase greetings. I just love how her sense of humour and excellent craftsmanship shine through her work. I also love the fact that her products make beautiful keepsakes.
|One of Alyce's quilted postcards|
Alyce was kind enough to share with me tidbits about herself and her work, and some words of wisdom too!
Hi, Alyce! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and the part of the world where you are?
My name is Alyce and I am the wife of a fantastic fella I married almost 46 years ago. We are the parents of an adult daughter. I am originally from Connecticut and he is from Georgia. We have sort of settled in the middle in Maryland in a little town at the head of the Chesapeake Bay. This town was the place that everyone on the east coast eloped to because there was no waiting period. Our town was lined with wedding chapels when we first moved here.
How did you get into sewing? Who was your main influence?
My mother was a huge influence on my sewing. In the late 40's she made dance recital costumes from our home. I was allowed to play with all the scraps of material and sequins, etc. My baby dolls had some very fancy duds. Sewing helped pay for some of my college expenses and it just went from there.
How did your craft business start?
My business started over 25 years ago when I decided that I was making all these items and needed a way to reduce my inventory. I was a SAHM (stay-at-home mum) and decided to give a few craft fairs a try. It just has gone on and on from there. Now I am pretty much established in the sewing/textile field.
Your fabric greeting cards are beautiful and make wonderful keepsakes. How did you come up with this concept?
I have always sent cards to celebrate an occasion or for no reason whatsoever. But finding the right card in the mass-produced market is not always easy. I actually saw some fabric postcards on display at the International Quilt Market in Houston about 9 years ago. At the time I was looking for something else to do in the sewing line as I could no longer do the hand sewing required for my whimsical cloth dolls. The only problem was that the cards I saw required an envelope for mailing. And true postcards don't. So I worked to refine the concept and figure out how to make them totally mailable. Fortunately, we have a great postmistress who was willing to talk with me at length and examine the prototypes.
|A beautifully quilted ACEO|
What is/are your source(s) of inspiration?
Not to sound trite, but inspiration comes from my everyday life. I might hear a phrase, a song lyric, read a quote, look out my window or find a piece of fabric that trips the creative juices.
What is your workspace like? Can you describe it to us please?
My workspace is a little piece of heaven. It is a large room (14ft x 18ft) three stories up with a bank of windows overlooking a stream and the woods. I have a dedicated space for the sewing machine and serger, a space for storage, a cutting table high enough to not break your back, and room to move around. Each wall is painted a different colour and it is a happy place.
|Alyce’s well-organised workspace with her trusty sewing machine and serger|
How does a normal working day go for you?
We are retired, so that means there is nothing normal. Some days I spend hours in my sewing room and other days I hardly make it there. If at all possible, I do try to spend several hours each day sewing and catching up with computer work. The computer work is my least favourite part – only because I am not that computer-literate.
|Part of the workspace—lots of storage space. I love the rows of doll clothes on their hangers!|
What do you do to relax?
I read, I bake and I walk. But I honestly relax the most by sitting at my sewing machine and sewing. I have an offline business of making doll clothes for the 18” dolls. They are fun to do and a great form of relaxation for me.
|Alyce's doll collection|
How do you market your work? Do you do a lot of trade shows? Do you have any online marketing tools that you use?
I do several craft shows a year. I have joined a couple of Etsy teams and I participate in the Etsy forums to a degree. I have no idea how to blog, Tweet or use Facebook, so my marketing is a challenge. There is a store that sells my cards locally.
|Alyce also makes beautiful bookmarks like this.|
As someone who’s been in the handmade craft business for a long time, do you have any advice for beginners?
I think my best advice is to find something you are passionate about and do it. Success doesn't come overnight for most of us, so don't be discouraged. Start with a plan and just be true to yourself. If it was meant to be, it will be.
Thank you so much Alyce for being so generous with your time and allowing us a glimpse of your wonderful world.
Please go visit Fabric Greetings on Etsy to see more of this remarkable woman's splendid creations!