This week we get to know Gunnel, our Boomer friend from southern Sweden. Her shop has caught the eye of many of us, and her friendliness on the forums is well known! And, for those of us who are Americans, here's a map of where Gunnel is.
The name of my shop is Gunnel Svensson, where I show and sell art quilts, fabric collage, embroidered art, mixed media collage, and textile jewellery.
How long have you been engaged in your art/craft? I have always created things. My mum taught me to sew my own clothes when I was ten years old, and I think I was the same age when I started my first class with clay, too. Since then I have done knitting, weaving, quilting, embroidery, silver smithing, etc. For the past ten years, however, I have been creating more free-style textiles . . . may I dare to call it textile art? More and more I’m concentrating on making mixed media pieces. I love to do collage, but I can’t only use paper; I have to have some fabric and stitches in them, too! I have a big love for vintage items, old photos, letters and stamps, old sewing materials, buttons . . . a lot of buttons!
Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson? It’s a difficult question to answer; I can’t live at my craft/art, but I can’t live without it either! Luckily, I have a husband who works and earns money ;-)
What inspires you? Nature, especially the sea. I love the sea! I love to look at old houses on my walks, as well as people, old things, flea markets. I try to visit many art exhibitions. I also watch what other artists are doing on the internet. There are so many creative people out there in the cyber world. I also read a lot of magazines and books.
Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio. After breakfast I’m in the habit of checking my email, Etsy, Flickr, catching up on others’ blogs, etc. This is an area where I have to limit myself: leaving the computer and going in to my studio. ;-) If I have an order from a customer I do that first: I try to post them very fast. Then I start with my creating. If I have work in progress I continue with it, maybe sewing on my machine, or dyeing or painting more fabrics, or making a collage with fabric and paper. After my lunch I try to take a walk, before I continue in my studio again. If I have things to photograph, I will do that now, when the light is best. In the warmer season, I try to do much of my work outside. Painting and dyeing fabrics is the best outside, and I love to do my hand embroidery in my garden in sunlight! By the evening, of course, it is time again with the computer, and I upload and list things to Etsy, Flickr and my blog.
What keeps you company while you’re working on a project? I listen to the radio — the Swedish Public Service, P1. It’s more talk than music, but it’s nice and I learn a lot from that. Sometimes I listen to an audio book — a good story or novel. When I’m doing freehand embroidery or freehand quilting on my sewing machine I need to listen to rock or pop, to do fast and good sewing! But very often I don’t listen to anything, I like the quiet time. It’s good for thinking, and I think about so much when doing my handstitching. My cat keeps me company, though sometimes she is too good and tries to help me ;-)
What is your favorite task related to your art/craft? It depends on my mood! It differs from time to time, but when I’m involved in what I’m doing, time flies, and I don’t notice the hours rushing by at all.
What is your least favorite task related to your art/craft? I think it is listing new items on Etsy; it takes time and I find it boring. And here’s a secret for you: I think it’s very, very hard to begin a new work. I can think about them for a very long time. [More on this further on.]
What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware? Do you blog? Are you a member of other teams? Do you use other sites? Which ones? I don’t think I am very good at promoting myself, but I have had a blog for two years, and a Flickr site, and it seems to be from these sources that many of my customers come. I am a member of two ning groups, mixed media/fibre arts and stitching fingers, and Facebook, and . . . as you see, the computer can take all day if you don’t watch out! I am a member of four teams at Etsy: Quiltsy team, mixed media team, Bbest team and Europeanstreetteam, and that is too many! But when I was new at Etsy, I didn’t know what it meant to be on a team or how much time it can take, so I joined several that looked interesting.
Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself in. I don’t know what to say here, but all the friends that I have made through my crafting, in real life and also through the internet, are generous, friendly and amazing women who give me so much inspiration and joy! And because of the internet and all you who don’t speak Swedish, I have to use English. I think it’s very hard to express myself in another language, and I am very, very glad you don’t have to hear me, only read my English ;-)
Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know about you by talking to you in the forums. I find it very hard to begin new work! I can think about a new project for a very long time. I look at my fabrics and thread, try different colour combinations, put it back again, do something else, and next day or maybe the next, I’ll start. So even if I am very pleased and happy when a work is done and finished, it’s so hard to start again. I’ve learned to have many works in progress, so I always have something to do, and while I’m working I can be thinking and planning the next work “in my head.”
What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music? I think my favourite books and films are Swedish or from our Scandinavian neighbours, but I like to see films with Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Robert De Niro, Hugh Grant, and many more. I listen often to REM, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Enya, and a lot others and of course also Swedish music. And I think the TV series Six Feet Under was great!
Would you care to share any words of wisdom with other aspiring artists or crafters? Yes, DO IT!!!! Don’t wait; you never know what will happen in your life, so do what you have to do now!