Bird On Wire Studio
1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Abby Emerson and I’m a 30-year-old Vermonter living on beautiful Lake Champlain. I share my home and life with a lovely husband and four beastly cats (Shmoo, Cookie, Chairman Mao, and Midas). I have a day job that I don’t like to talk about because it makes me miserable, but I spend nearly all of my non-working hours working on my shop and Plumpies. I love nature and animals and craft fairs too, so every once and a while I put down my felting needles to venture out into the world. When I’m not needle felting, I try to paint with watercolors and sculpt a little with clay.
2. What made you open your shop and why Etsy?
About five years ago I took up painting with acrylics. I would paint these elaborate skies and then draw a thin, black line across them and paint a bird on it in silhouette. I called these my “Bird on Wire” paintings. At the time, I had a Livejournal account and began selling the paintings through that venue. I think I read about Etsy on another person’s journal and opened my shop there. I had two sales and then didn’t revisit my shop until March of this year (2010). I’m a HUGE Etsy fanatic. I check it at least ten times a day. There are sellers on Etsy that I love like my own family and who inspire me each and every day. There’s no place on Earth I’d rather be than part of the Etsy family.
3. Do you sell your items anywhere else?
Presently I have a collection of Plumpies and Mini-Plumpies in an ecological home store in Burlington, Vermont called The Green Life. I’m also going to be doing some craft fairs this summer and hopefully (fingers, eyes, toes crossed) sell my creations on consignment with my favorite local toy store.
4. How did you choose your shop name?
Back in 2005, when I was painting birds on wires, I named all the paintings “Bird on Wire 1,” or “Bird on Wire 2,” and the name just stuck. I never called them “Bird on a Wire” – which makes more sense to some people. I have a little studio in my apartment and I would spread the paintings out all over the place, so it became the “Bird on Wire Studio.” I love it now because I’ll never forget my roots. It means a great deal to me to look back on how far I’ve come as an artist and soul. Of course, if I were to be truthful about my studio space, it would be OhMyGodThereAreCatsEverywhere! Studio. But, you know, that’s not really marketable.
5. What are your favourite things to do?
Listing things I like to do is one of my favorite things to do, so here goes: needle felt, pet my cats, sleep, eat cheese, swim in the ocean, watch movies, make pancakes on Sunday morning, window shop on Etsy, drive really fast, nap on the beach, visit the cow herd at the local dairy farm and let them lick me, walk in the woods, point out groundhogs eating grass on the side of the road, explore thrift shops, paint, collect art, introduce myself to dogs at the park, and decorate spaces. This is an abridged list.
6. What inspires you?
I’m inspired by all things cute and cuddly. I love animals and can find a good thing to say about pretty much any creature on earth. Even spiders – but that’s a stretch. I didn’t have an excellent childhood, so now that I’m an adult and in control of my destiny, I’m learning how to approach the world with innocence, grace, and wonder. I think animals are the embodiment of those qualities and I have always been fascinated by them. I feel like I can relate more to a cat than most people. In addition to animals, I’m inspired by art, color, nature, beauty, rocks, skies, candy, moments of kindness – you name it. I think inspiration is everywhere if you open your eyes to it. I’ve learned how to listen to what makes my heart purr.
7. What is your favourite thing to make in your shop?
I really love making the Plumpy Walrus. There’s something deeply satisfying about his simplicity. The Walrus is an iconic animal – easily distinguishable, and I love really simplifying his form. Whenever I make a Walrus, I tell him he’s cute about twenty times. I do talk to my art. I’m also HUGELY fond of the owls because they can be tricky to get “right.” Then, all of a sudden, the details fall together and you have a little owl in your hands. It’s kind of cool. I’m still surprising myself all the time.
8. What item is the most popular?
Hands down it’s the Sitting Fox. Etsy featured him the very first day I opened my shop and I have been inundated with requests for custom foxes. The problem is, he takes the most time of all of my creations, so getting orders filled has been slow going. I think Etsians love foxes more than any other animal. I can see why.
9. Which handmade possession given to you do you most cherish?
When I was five, my mother made me a stuffed cat pillow. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried into Kitty Pillow. She is full of 25 years of sad moments and comfort. She lives in my studio now and my cats sleep on her, but even when she’s threadbare, I’ll frame her remnants. I could never, ever part with her.
10. Name 3 other Etsy shops you love to visit.
JooJooLand (Everyone loves Afi!)
elukka (Szilvia is one of my all time favorite people on the planet)
Song & Branch Studio (Karen has an amazing gift to capture the gesture and grace of animals)
Thank you so much to Bird On A Wire Studio for such a great interview. This shop is a recent find and as soon as I saw the little critters in this shop I knew I had to feature them on my blog. I wondered how she got so much character and life into each animal and after reading this interview I think I've figured it out. It must be from being chatted to and all the praises they get while being created that does it. With so much love and attention being put into each little critter its no wonder people fall in love with them. Check out this shop and have a look at all the other animals that are being created. I just know you'll find some favourites.