Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Morning Feature: Blisscraft & Brazen.

Blisscraft & Brazen.
Boy meets girl. Wood meets silver. Awesome ensues.

Well, you lucky viewers, it’s time for the first ever Monday Morning Feature! It’s just a new, spiffy little section where incredible Etsy stores will be interviewed and showcased freakishly early every Monday morning.
A few giveaways may even ensue in the upcoming weeks!
So go on and subscribe to keep updated.

And without any more rambling, it is my honor to introduce Blisscraft & Brazen. Working in sustainable materials, the power couple behind Blisscraft & Brazen merges wood and metal, resulting in numbingly gorgeous works of art.
Plus they’re from Canada, which makes them awesome.
Yay fellow Northern people!

1. Tell us a bit more about the creative process for you. Is there anything that just jump-starts the inspiration?

Often the materials themselves will tell us what we should do with it, or even give us the idea for a new piece. The texture of the bark, the branch formation, or the size of a scrap of wood rescued from a burn pile will dictate what it becomes.

2. All of your products are sustainable, so how do you go about finding the supplies?

There are a few different sources for our materials. I'm a silversmith and Aaron is a woodworker, and each have a pile of scraps that builds up in our studios. We started our line with these scraps, but soon expanded to rescuing broken wood furniture from the curb, reclaiming copper wiring from construction site garbage, saving larger woodshop's "burn piles" from the fire, and taking in donations of wood from old dismantled barns, broken pianos and pallet skids.

3. Why did you choose to work with sustainable materials?

We are super passionate about being sustainable in all aspects of our lives! Sustainable means lots of things to us. Firstly, our lives need to be sustainable, i.e. healthy. Rachel has Lupus, a chronic illness that comes with a host of chemical sensitivities and is aggravated by stress, something we have far too much of in our world. Aaron has always felt uncomfortable and constricted in the city, so we moved to the country in order to live our lives surrounded by nature. We both chose to start our own businesses to sustain our energy and passion and feed our creative spirits. Sustainable means making use of the materials at hand and not just throwing money at a problem.

We are concerned about the ways in which we humans take our environment for granted. There is a huge disconnect between the making of a product, and the end consumer. Each of the items we use on a daily basis has gone through many complex steps to get to our home. Mining, milling, casting, dyeing, the fuel used to transport these goods from countries with cheap and easy labour across the world to us... we are trying in our businesses to keep production local, to make use of as much material as is possible, to reuse items and do our best to keep items from landfills. The phenomenon of "garbage" is itself a rather modern thing, brought into existence by our ability to create synthetic materials that don't degrade.

We are actually those crazy people who moved to the country to attempt to escape the stresses of city living, live off the land as much we can, compost, support local farming and reduce our costs and impact on the earth as much as possible. We have also made eco-renovations to our home, such as putting in sustainably harvested local oak hardwood floors, installing radiant floor heating, installing rain barrels and using non-VOC paint. The one downside is that we are much more reliant on a car, but since both our workshops are here at home, we are not commuting daily.

It can be very challenging to be sustainable - eco-friendly options are often more expensive, or hard to find (trying to avoid PVC [polyvinyl chlordie, a known carcinogen] is really really hard - it's in everything!), and we still rely heavily on materials, tools and energy that isn't sustainable. We hope if we all make an effort, and businesses realize the bottom-line benefit to being guardians of the planet, it will become second nature to live sustainable lives!

4. What piece is your favorite?

We're a bit obsessed with our new artisanal chopsticks - they make great use of the thin slivers of wood that are often sliced off wood in the milling and production process for a larger piece of furniture. The bath caddy would be Rachel's favourite it we had a bathtub, but our in-process home is currently only fitted with a tiny standup shower stall! She daydreams about taking a bath with one of our caddies! The most used B&B item in our house is the split log tealight candle holder on the dining room table. We love having friends up for the weekend and when everyone's gathered around the big barnwood table, laden with a nice roast dinner, the log is always the centrepiece! But the wood and silver acorn pendant was our first collaboration and is such a sweet representation of our collaboration that it will always have a soft spot in our hearts!

5. Do you have any tips or tricks for fellow estians on how to promote their shops more?

We have had fantastic experience being on some teams, both for helping to make front-page-worthy treasuries and also to just bounce ideas off of, or a kind group of people to listen when you're having a stressful day!

We find it useful to renew our items consistently, as well as add new items regularly. We've found that the effort you spend on etsy always comes back tenfold.

And, of course, great photography can make or break your shop! We were so lucky to photograph our bath caddy in the beautiful newly renovated bathroom of one of Aaron's clients, and the pictures are stunning and have gotten us into the Esty Finds and garnered us other media attention.

6. Tell us the story behind your shop.

We've been a couple for a long time - this Monday is actually our 10 year anniversary! We met in Fine Arts school where Rachel was working with screenprinting and embroidering textiles and Aaron was creating, wood and metal sculpture. After school, Aaron became a certified Cabinetmaker and Rachel took silversmithing classes. We have each run our own businesses (furniture making and sterling silver jewellry We ran an art festival together in university but always wanted to collaborate creatively. Shortly after we bought our home last summer, we discovered a major problem with our foundation that required immediate attention. Rachel's studio had to be shut down and some of her equipment moved to Aaron's wood shop. We decided to dedicate a long Autumn weekend to making something together. Our first creation was a wood and silver acorn pendant. We had such a blast that we did a whole production line that we sold at a couple of our favourite holiday craft shows in Montreal. The response was overwhelming and now B&B is our (third) full time gig!

Visit Blisscraft & Brazen.

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