One of my favorite Etsy shops is featured on the Etsy homepage! I wrote about Cat Bishop's shop back in September. I love the way she takes vintage items and makes these cute robot-looking sculptures.
Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
My name is Cat Bishop, I'm a self-taught assemblage artist and have been lucky enough to make it without a "real" job since the birth of my son in 1996. I live in Asheville NC in my 1930's dream house with inadequate heating. I spent most of my life in Austin TX but was born and raised in New Orleans and it will always feel like home. I have one incredibly amazing son, two bad Afghan Hounds, Monkey and Homeboy and a decent cat named Puckett. I've always done some form of crafts, stained glass, lampworking, mosaics and jewelry but one day while messing around with vintage items I'd collected, I realized if I stacked them just right they sort of came to life. Finally I had found an art form I knew I would never tire of since the components and possibilities are endless. On a good day the pieces seem to assemble themselves, on a bad day I've learned to do something else. If it’s possible I always keep the sculptures functional, for instance all my camera robots still work if they did when I got them, you just look a little silly taking pictures...
As of today I'm starting a series of assemblages "1000 Pieces" that will be numbered and if at all possible I will work the actual number into the sculpture itself. This should keep me busy for awhile.
I'd like to thank Etsy for giving me and so many artists the opportunity to make a living doing what we love, I know I wouldn't be where I am today without this site and all the amazing supportive friends I've met here. I'm eternally grateful.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
My best friend Jennifer and I made acorn earrings and tried to no avail to sell them for a nickel. Basically using your thumbnail you slice off both ends, remove the guts and then carefully slice a cut down the center that clips on over your earlobe. I still pretty much have to make them every time I pick up an acorn and have taught a lot of little kids my secret technique.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
My inspiration really comes from the vintage objects that I work with and the thrill of finding them; caffeine also helps. I can get way too excited over old painted croquet balls or a trashed motorcycle gas tank that I know just needs to reincarnated into a duck. I also love the shapes, lines and colors of 1950's design. It's so stylized and easily recognizable, can we say that about the 1990's? Clearly they don't make things like they used to, so I use the old things.
What are your favorite materials?
Old clocks, Kodak Brownie cameras, vintage croquet balls, bakelite pool balls, 1950's kitchenware, old toys, game boards, dominoes and vintage tin world globes.
What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
That drawings of people with antlers and bird heads sell? Kidding, but sadly I cannot draw so that valuable lesson was out. The most important thing I learned on Etsy was to figure out what it is you do best, and then put your heart and soul into it every day and make it your own. Oh and none of that will work at all if you don't have a macro lens and take interesting photos.
Why should people buy handmade?
Why not? I don't get that lovey smushy feeling buying at Walmart.
What features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?
I think Etsy is swell just the way it is. If I had to come up with something though I'd like an E-postcard that we could send out to friends with links to maybe 5 or 6 shops that we know they would love. So we would pick the shops and Jared would make it all very irresistibly fun to play with.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I dance, watch my son play soccer, make a lot of spaghetti, go to Smiley's flea market, loiter at the scrap yard, convo all day with stilettoheights.etsy.com and sleep.... thrilling I know.
Read any good books lately?
The book I always reread when I lose my mojo is The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. If you can get past the new agey lingo (which bugs me) the principles seem essential for living a purposeful creative life. I also read way too much of the Etsy forums. The quality of writing isn't all that great but the drama is hard to beat.
In ten years I'd like to be...
Living on a Mexican beach with a hot cabana boy and still making crazy assemblages for a living, oh and hopefully done with "1000 Pieces."