My Creative Friend: Moira

My creative friend Moira is a woman who has a way with words. She is the owner of Literary Tease, a jewelry business that incorporates text in various beautiful designs, she authors a blog called Your Trash is My Treasure where she documents her thrifty & resourceful ways, and she teaches art classes all around Providence for kids in after-school and summer camp programs.

Moira continually inspires me to think outside the box about transforming common materials/recycled stuff into art, and she encourages me to plow ahead with Connect the Dots just as she's making her own way with her indie biz, Literary Tease. We share resources and business tips regularly - I'm so glad we crossed paths! I asked her to share a bit about her creative practice here:

{ Moira }

What is Literary Tease, and how did it get started?

Literary Tease is my jewelry business on one level, but really, it’s my public creative outlet. I’ve had the domain name for a long time now, at least five years. When I came up with the name, I did not even consider myself an artist! I was trying to pursue a career as as writer, and at the time, I was really into making my own herbal tea blends and I was selling bath salts on eBay. The original concept for Literary Tease was a site where I published short stories and sold tea blends. That never quite worked out!

I kind of fell into jewelry by accident. A friend who was traveling in my area came to visit, and she and her friend were working on hemp necklaces while we were hanging out. I asked them to teach me how to do it and loved it! I was also quitting smoking at the time, so having something to do with my hands really helped me not smoke. It didn’t take long for me to get bored with the stitches she taught me, so I went to the library, got a book, on macrame and started experimenting. I really liked the look of hemp necklaces with a focal charms, but when I couldn’t find anything I liked in the stores near me, I started figuring out ways to make my own and started playing with new materials and forms, which ended up being collage on various small objects.

Since I’ve got the writer background, words have always played a role in what I create. People started asking to buy the jewelry I made, so I kept using the money from sales to buy more supplies. My jewelry making and business has evolved from there.

{ Blue Skies Goddess Reversible Stretch Bamboo Bracelet with Toggle Clasp - on sale! }

How did/do you learn and improve your creative skills?

I’m completely self-taught, but that doesn’t mean I figured everything out on my own. I learn a lot from looking at art, and trying to figure out how it was made. I learn from online tutorials and reading creative blogs and websites. I love to read, and I’m constantly checking out craft books from the library on anything from sewing to crochet to metalworking. You never know when a technique from one form will translate well into another. I also learn so much from my students: sometimes I swear I’m learning more than they are! (Well, I sure hope not, or I’m not doing my job right! Haha!) I love seeing how they solve creative problems and sometimes they give me the best ideas for projects.

What are your creative fears?

I think when you are doing production artwork, i.e. making multiples of the same item, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not coming up with anything new. Also, I don’t have a background in art; I’ve never even taken an art class other than a crappy 2-D design course when I was a freshman in college and an art history class. I did a class at the Steel Yard about metal jewelry design, and all I really learned was that soldering is not for me.

This is all brand-new to me and I’m learning as I go. Plus, sometimes when I look at the amazing artwork being created by some many artists out there, I worry that I can never measure up. I worry that I’m a hack, and not a “real” artist, whatever that means. I worry that I’m not good enough, that I’ll lose my edge, and that no one will buy my work.

{ Original Art Collage Pocket Mirrors - available on Etsy }

What is your favorite part about running your own business? What is the most difficult part?

I think the best part is that it’s all about how much I want to put into it. If I want to work all weekend, I can. If I want to coast by for a few weeks without doing much of anything, I can do that, too. I am my own boss. Still, the most difficult part is definitely staying on track and staying inspired. Since I’m the boss, I have to figure out where I’m going and how to get there. Inspiration can be hard when I’m having a down day or just don’t feel like being creative.

Right now, my business is more like a side job than a full-time career -- I put most of my energy into my Bling Bling jewelry classes, but my business is definitely growing. I’m already thinking about new product lines and how to get my work out there. Still, it’s nice to have the balance between a more steady income from teaching and a less sure income from selling my work. Although, since I’m nobody’s employee, my income is always up in the air. If I want to earn a living, I have to go out there and find someone willing to pay me to do what I do.

What is the first creative moment you remember?

I was always a crafty kid, and I remember making all sorts of arts and crafts projects when I was younger. What stands out to me a lot though was when I was trying to learn how to knit. I think it was my grandmother who had taught me how to knit at first, but I just didn’t get it. I remember sitting on my parents’ bed, trying to figure it out, and my dad came in and showed me how to do it. I always thought it was cool that my dad knew how to knit!

My dad was a really crafty guy, and I get sad sometimes because I know he’d be so proud of the way I’ve managed to turn my creative interests into a career. He always hated his jobs and was forever trying to figure out a crafty way to make money, but that’s hard to do with a wife and family of three to support. I definitely got a lot of my crafty, thrifty ways from my dad, but my mom used to do a lot of craft stuff, too. She used to make all our clothes when we were kids and would knit sweaters, too.

{ My favorite - stud earrings that Moira custom made just for me! }

What is your creative ambition?

I have this vision of having a space that’s part studio, part art gallery-store, and part learning space. I’d love to live off the land, too. I think I’m secretly wanting to live in a commune, since I love gardening, canning and preserving, and really want to have goats. That totally stems back from childhood, too, since we had chickens when I was a kid as well as a huge garden.

I love teaching people how to expand their creative abilities, and I definitely want to continue with that line of my career. Since I do have a degree and background in writing, it would be great to eventually publish a book on an artsy-crafty theme! And, maybe, one day I’d like to finish my half-finished novel about the circus.

Thanks for sharing, Moira! Keep up the fabulous work! You can follow Moira's new work, exclusive sales & deals, and thrifty tips at her blog, Etsy Shop, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

You turn: What is YOUR creative ambition? Share it in the comments below!

Carole Ann

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