Free-For-All Friday: Reader Pauline Crawford

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Pauline Crawford

We’ve turned the spotlight onto the most important people we know……M.L. Gardner’s readers. One Friday a month, we’ll highlight one of you. You’ll have the opportunity to tell us all about yourself, your family, your passions, your dreams, whatever you want to share. You readers are the V.I.P’s, and we appreciate your support so very much. Please welcome, our very first M.L. Gardner reader feature, Pauline Crawford!

What is your name?

Pauline Crawford

Where are you from?

I was born in Biddeford, Maine. Shortly after we moved to Saco, then Arundel, Acton, Madawaska and finally Crawford Maine. I am a Mainer and love this state from the area wildness of it to the ocean. The changing weather is phenomenal and I do love the 4 seasons.

Tell us about your family.

Dad and Mom were very creative people. They were great parents and we did a lot of family things. Mom was an awesome cook and her crafts were original and beautiful. Dad liked woodworking and made a lot of things for the house. His pride was the 7 piece circus birdhouses that he made and I painted for him. I have a younger sister who has a daughter and 2 grandchildren. I had 4 children but my youngest son died at 11 years old. I have another son who is the eldest, an older daughter and a younger daughter. This way there was no “middle child” lol. I have 2 grandchildren of my own, and inherited 8 more (my husbands) and 3 great grandchildren. We have a Malti-poo named Waggedy-Anne and she is a very smart and lovable small dog.

Are you employed, retired, stay-at-home parent, etc.? What’s your status and what do you do?

My husband and I are retired but we do stay busy. We have an old lodge that we putter around in. It was a lodge when we bought it 10 years ago before we retired. Now, it’s home. It is very quiet and private and we love it. He has his food garden and I am struggling with flowers. We cut and stack the wood in a wood shed that Ron made from his lumber mill out back. We have wood and gas heat and a gas fireplace in the living room. We do a lot of fishing on the lake. There are many days when see one or two boats out there. Usually we see no one on the total 4000 acres of lakes . We enjoy hunting and fishing, playing Canasta on rainy or snowy days and just hanging out. We decorate at Christmas and just love our life here.

What are your hobbies?

I have many crafts that I love to do. I do enjoy a good book and Ms Gardner by far is the best I have ever read. I have others that I like a lot but nothing compared to the “1929” series. I love to design knitted or crocheted afghans, sweaters, hats and mittens. I have made many that I designed. I love to paint, sew, and cross-stitch. I tried writing in college and am not very good at it (lol) but it was fun. I love cooking and had over a thousand cookbooks at one time but I ended up getting rid of a lot of them before we moved to the lodge. We lived in a smaller place before so I had no room.

Describe a typical day.

This is hard as I have no “typical day”. I never know what the day will bring but I greet it with enthusiasm (sometimes). I do my daily cleaning, cook some sort of invention (on occasion) make bread or think of things to make (crafts). I just keep busy until suppertime. Then we watch the news and I do crafts while we watch television. The 3 of us do enjoy walking to the mailbox together. Sometimes we go out back and pick wild blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries when in season.

What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

I like to play family games. I enjoy getting ready and decorating for Christmas. I really enjoy surprising people for no reason at all.

How did you discover M.L. Gardner?

My youngest daughter Bonnie sent me the book on a Kindle that she bought me for Mother’s Day. She told me about a book (1929) she was reading by Ms. Gardner. I said it sounded interesting. She loaned it to me on the Kindle and I ended up buying my own copy and all of the other ones that followed. I mentioned to Bonnie about getting the hard copies and she suggested that I contact Ms. Gardner on Facebook to see if there were any plans to do that. I did and was very pleased that Ms. Gardner took the time to reply. I was even more impressed that she involved her readers in some ideas that she had and then listened and commented to them. To me, that spoke volumes of the kind of person she is. How can you not like someone who takes an interest in what you think when it is so obvious that she really doesn’t need help. Her stories are addicting and people can hardly wait for the next one to come out.

What inspires you?

A lot of things. Seeing the beautiful sunsets we have or watching the birds that we feed out our dining room window. Sometimes seeing the snow covered trees or some flowers bloom that I had completely forgotten that I planted. Walking the half mile walk down our roadway to the mailbox and stopping by the little brook to see minnows swim around. Trying to think of a surprise or of something that would make a person happy.

Free-For-All Friday: Mountain Girl Soap With Naomi Murray

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Naomi Murray, Founder of Mountain Girl Soap

Naomi Murray, Founder of Mountain Girl Soap

Christmas is right around the corner. Wouldn’t it be lovely to receive something as thoughtful as handmade vegan soaps, lip balms and facial masks?  Enter Naomi Murray, founder of Mountain Girl Soap, and creator of some of the most eco friendly and beautifully packaged products I’ve ever seen.  She runs every aspect of her business as evidenced by the artistic touches you’ll see in everything from the photographs to the scent combinations. Naomi’s passion for Nature fuels her business. Her Etsy site says, “The name ‘Mountain Girl’ was inspired by real women, it embodies the spirit of women who are strong, Earth wise, and who nurture the connective relationship between the mind, body, spirit, and environment.”

What is your name?

My name is Naomi Murray; I am an artisan soap maker and proprietress of Mountain Girl Soap. I live in Oak Run, California with my husband, Don, and our two Boston Terriers Rogue and Raven. I received my Soap Maker’s Certification from the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild and my Associate’s Degree in Business from Shasta College.

Describe your products.

Tag Lines: Handmade in the foothills of Northern California. Inspired by mountain living. Soap for the Mountain Girl’s soul. I hand make each batch completely from scratch, using the traditional cold process method. I never use sodium laurel sulfate, detergents, dyes, or parabens. And my soap never contains animal-derived ingredients, animal by-products, nor ingredients tested on animals. Because every batch is hand stirred, hand cut, and hand wrapped, each bar is characteristically unique and will vary slightly in shape, size and weight. The charm of my soaps is that they are left natural; no trimming, no polishing.

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How and why did you open an Etsy store? Is your Etsy shop your full time job?

Sharing my creations with others makes me happy. I love connecting with my customers and filling special soap needs for them. I also like the challenges of being a small business owner. I’m a make-and-do person; I love doing everything myself from product photography to logo and label design, to balancing my own books, so it just followed that I would manage my own shop. In addition to running my Etsy shop I work full-time at a garbage and recycling company.

What inspires your creations? Are you working on any new products?

I find inspiration from the outdoors; my Native California Plant Series of soaps was inspired by local flora. I also take inspiration from my customers and I fill special requests often. The next creation on my to-do list is body lotion. I also have plans to make a body wash and shampoo.

Why did you begin making soap?

About 8 years ago I was helping my husband slaughter a steer that we raised on our 11 acres which we do about once every couple of years to feed our family. I looked down with disappointment at this large pile of waste (head, hooves, hide, organs, fat, etc.). My thoughts went to the Native Americans and how they never wasted any part of the buffalo. And I remembered how in the “old days” people used to make soap from animal fat. Desiring to live even just a little more sustainably I was curious to learn how this could be done. I purchased a book on soap making and asked my husband to save me the fat off the next steer. And so then I rendered my own tallow from the fat off the kidneys (suet) which is known to produce the best soap. The stench in my kitchen from rendering the fat was really bad, but I’ll never forget my very first batch of earthy Oatmeal Soap. It was a chunky dingy gray rectangle of the smoothest, hardest, longest lasting soap I’d ever used and it was my creation! Because of health reasons I later became a vegan and I no longer use animal derived materials. I now use high quality vegetable oils and non-animal ingredients.

Describe a typical day.

I spend my time researching new ingredients, wild harvesting plant materials, formulating, and designing new soaps. The endless color and scent variations provide an array that is ever exciting and new.

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What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

I am an advanced certified scuba diver. Pearl Jam is my favorite band. I played the clarinet in school.

What advice would you give to others beginning their own businesses?

My advice to others beginning their own business is define your brand, keep a narrow focus, and know your target audience. Always use the best materials, strive for quality rather than quantity, and learn to trust yourself.

Connect With Her

Facebook

Website

Etsy

Email: naomi@mountaingirlsoap.com

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Free-For-All Friday: Artist Thomas Philbrook

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We’re pleased as punch to introduce you to artist Thomas Philbrook, a resident of Rockport, MA which, as most of you know, is  the setting for the majority of M.L. Gardner’s 1929 Series. And to top it off, many of Philbrook’s images portray Rockport in all sorts of bold and colorful, unusual ways. With an offbeat perspective, this photographer, illustrator and graphic designer takes his photographs to fantastical levels and creates gorgeous, inspiring, and thought-provoking digital fine art. Please, please, please check out his website here, and see his images for yourself. Go ahead, and do it now.  We’ll wait for you………… Did you see them?  They’re quite spectacular, aren’t they?  Okay, now you may continue to read more about the talented Thomas Philbrook.

What is your name?

Thomas A Philbrook (Tom)

Describe your products.

On Etsy I sell blank notecard versions of the photo-based digital images I create.

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How and why did you open an Etsy store? Is your Etsy shop your full time job?

I started my Etsy store principally as a promotional vehicle for my images which I sell in a couple shops here in beautiful Rockport Massachusetts. And “nope” – my Etsy shop is not a full time job. I split my time between pursuing my own picture-making and working part-time as a graphic designer/illustrator – a profession I’ve had for the past 35 years.

What inspires you?

In addition to a number of favorite artists, my inspiration comes from the natural world around us — its diversity, beauty and spirituality. Also lately, I’ve enjoyed introducing whimsy into my landscapes by incorporating toys and images evocative of childhood. The creation of my images is a combo-deal, employing cameras, computer equipment, and my imagination. As I’ve already said, I’ve a deep regard for nature and my pictures reflect this. I’m especially fond of zeroing in on — and sometimes tweaking — that which goes unnoticed by the casual observer. By studying nature at a more intimate level, I might try to draw your attention to some of the more unique qualities of the wondrous world around us. The computer allows me to tinker and play with pictures, taking the viewer on a walk through a newly ‘conjured-up’ world.

Describe a typical day.

A typical day usually begins around 5:00am. If it’s light enough, I’ll grab my camera and head outdoors for a walkabout for an hour or so. After that, if I have a “real job” commitment that day I’ll stick my nose in front of a Mac computer churning out whatever graphic design challenge is queued up. But my preferred day would be one spent ‘beginning’ or ‘working on’ or ‘finalizing’ one of my own creations. As with the real job, this sort of day also involves being plopped in front of a Mac for the day. It’s where the magic happens.

What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

1. I could eat Italian food seven nights a week. 2. I’m a world-class bench-sitter. 3. I have a pumpkin stem collection.

What advice would you give to others beginning their own businesses?

Only pay attention to about half of what people advise you about. Follow your heart first and foremost.

 Connect with Thomas Philbrook

Facebook

Website

Etsy

Email: tphilbrook@verizon.net

If you are visiting Rockport Massachusetts, please visit the Rockport Art Association and the Toad Hall Bookstore where I – and others more talented than myself – have work on display. I hope my work will find an audience who enjoys it as much as I enjoy making it. Thank you!

Free-For-All Friday: DISHology With Megan Buccere and Chloe’ Hagan

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M.L. Gardner’s Free-For-All Friday welcomes DISHology co-founders Megan Buccere and Chloe’Hagan with their beautiful creations. Art teachers by day and business owners by night, this creative duo handcrafts everything from serving dishes, to mugs, to platters, to soap pumps, to coffee services, etc.  Be sure to check out their website and Etsy store because every piece is magnificently drool worthy!

What is your name?

DISHology LLC. We are 2 best friends and fine artists, Megan Buccere (pronounced ba sarah) and Chloe’ Hagan.

Describe your products.

DISHology is a collaborative pottery company that combines hand drawn images with ceramics you can use everyday. Our pieces include hand rolled cheese trays, giant coffee mugs, serving platters, coffee sets and much more!

How and why did you open an Etsy store? Is your Etsy shop your full time job?

We began our business a year and a half ago after we had both been experimenting with ceramic techniques. I (Megan) grabbed a glaze pencil one day and started drawing on some unfinished bisque pieces I had created. Chloe’ came by and took the idea and began drawing on larger pieces. We spent a few weeks playing around with our new ideas and one day it just hit us! We have to start a pottery company. We hadn’t seen anyone doing anything like what we were producing on etsy which was a pretty good sign that we had come up with something great. We put a few pieces on display in a local shop that was selling our paintings. The response was phenomenal. After our website kick off the next logical step was to sell on etsy. We are still a young company and the response from etsy customers has really been inspirational. We can hit a national market that helps us to develop new products. Our Etsy shop is not our full time job….yet. We are both full time art teachers and currently DISHology is more of a hobby (although our long term goal is to make it full time)

What inspires you?

We are from Louisiana and a lot of our products (mostly on our website not on etsy) are done with a Louisiana theme. The people in our state are very culturally aware and love anything and everything having to do with Louisiana culture. We have designed a mardi gras line, kitchy swamp scenes, we even have a cajun dictionary collection. Other than our Louisiana designs we love to do whimsical pieces that bring a little spark of joy into peoples every day lives. We really try to research design trends and see what our customers want in their homes.

Describe a typical day.

Chloe’ and I are both full time art teachers so during the day we are teaching art to upper level high school kids. In the evenings and on the weekends we have a studio and kiln where we work on our newest DISHology creations.

What are some fun things we should know about you?

We like to make our significant others help us glaze sometimes. We both love to listen to loud music while we work in the studio.

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Connect with DISHology

Facebook

Website

Etsy

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