Of course it's the elephant right?
In this week Etsy Pick's I bring you Laura Johnston, owner of the Etsy store le animalé. With animals as her central theme, Laura makes cute little clay animal totems, animal jewelery, and paints original animal art on cards, notebooks and more! Since I adore animals too, if you couldn't already tell from the name of my blog, I decided she would be this week's feature! But mostly because her animal totems are too stinkin' cute!!!! And so tiny! Can you imagine molding each one from clay and then hand painting them? *sweats*
This little lady is also from *drum roll* you guessed right, North Carolina. She is based in Raleigh where the J-man hopes to go to school one day. I just found out she is going to pursue her MBA from the same college! If fate allows, we might get to meet up one day!
Meanwhile, read more about Laura, her Etsy store and her upcoming projects!
1) How did you get started with making clay animal totems. What is the background story?
The background story of le animalé. Well, I have always loved animals and I have always loved creating. When I was younger the first thing I always told people I wanted to be 'when I grow up' is a veterinarian. Over time I realized that I have an incredible passion for art, but not so much for science. Fast forward to the past few years: I've had this idea of wanting a miniature zoo (what would be cuter than a zoo full of miniature animals?!). Since I can't make that happen with real animals, again science is not really my thing, I decided to create the closest thing possible with sculpture and art: le animalé. It also coincided with my love for gifts & gift shops; I like thoughtful things that can brighten someone's day. What better than animals??
2) Just because I love elephants, I have to ask... What is your favorite animal and have you done a totem of it? If you have, was it difficult to mould it your standard of perfection?
My favorite animal has always been the cheetah. I have so many favorites, but the cheetah is my 'spirit animal' that I connect with the most. I have not done a cheetah totem yet.. partially because I want to keep it and I haven't had time to make something for myself, but also because I want to create it perfectly and I guess that thought, since it's my favorite animal, has been a little daunting. It will happen at some point, though.
3) What is the creative process behind your clay animals?
As far as choosing the animal goes, sometimes I just go through my brain and pick ones at random. My friends will send me animal photos they come across and sometimes those will inspire me. I also follow a couple of animal blogs and will get ideas from there as well. Once I choose the animal, I jump straight in on sculpting it (sketches of how I want it to look are basically done in my head). If it's one thing about me and my creative process, it's that when I get an idea, I just make it happen without a lot of planning and fuss. Once the animal is sculpted, I bake it so it hardens, and then it is painted with little tiny brushes and acrylic paint. Once the painting is all done I sign the bottom, and finish it up with a couple of coats of protective varnish. Totems take a few hours to create, and the time varies a bit from animal to animal.
4) Tell us more about Marshmallows for Paws!
Marshmallows for Paws is my brand new project! I wanted to do something that would allow me to give back to the community, and especially after searching for my second dog last year and visiting lots of shelters, I decided to donate to animal rescue efforts. It's only fitting, after all. I chose marshmallows because they are fun, versatile, unexpected, and the shape is easier to recreate by hand than most animals (since the goal is to sell multiples of them, not just one like most of my totems). Looking at the different marshmallows you will find fun little ''fortune'' descriptions and a place to customize with your own message or quote. They are a super fun & unique gift idea, or can serve as a great way to carry around a little reminder to yourself. I am donating 25% of the proceeds from every marshmallow sold to the Wake County Animal Shelter in Raleigh, NC.
5) What other items do you have up for sale in your Etsy store, and what are your future plans for it?
In addition to totems, my shop has original illustrations, brooches and jewelry, greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, and inspirational hand painted Moleskine notebooks. I've also just started a daily illustration project, so you will be able to find more illustrations in my shop very soon. And as the holidays approach, I will be listing more Christmas ornaments. Lastly, I have some gift sets of magnets that I will be listing within the next month. So there will be lots new to check out soon! :)
You can keep up with my work and adventures on my blog, chat with me on Twitter, or join me on Facebook.
And now for the giveaway for September....
Anybody else who thinks this Rainbow Winged Pegasus brooch is super adorable, please raise your hands!
Or better yet, leave a comment below for a chance to win this giveaway.
For additional entries, you may leave another comment below if you...
1) Are a follower of this blog
2) Like Laura Johnston's Facebook page
3) Tweet about this giveaway: @punkychewster September giveaway: UBER cute Rainbow Winged Pegasus Brooch up for grabs! You got a minute to win it? http://bit.ly/qyVDhz
4) Blog about this giveaway and include link in your comment.
This giveaway ends September 30th, 11:59pm ET, and is open to international readers too! A winner will be chosen at random and notified by email, so please do not forget to leave your email address in your comments! Good luck!