Collette: If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Gabrielle: I love this question because there are days when I relate better with all of my animals than any people I know. I live in a downtown area but have opted to create a rural setting. Along with my four home educated kids, we have 10 chickens, 2 dogs, 2 chinchillas, 2 budgies, and a gnarly 20 year old cat.
Now if I include my own animal alter ego there would also be a large cat like a cheetah or puma because I am really intense, low emotion, move very rapidly in lots of short bursts and sleep 9-10 hours and very protective of those I love. :)
Collette: And domestic and large cats are very graceful and intelligent animals too, even if they do have a bad rep for being overly independent. Tell us a little more about yourself.
Gabrielle: I'm formally trained as a sculptor, later a successful muralist and now a combination of the latter along with sewist, think tank and pattern designer, I have always turned one thing into another. Whether as a “noodlers” challenge to figure out all possibilities or to fully utilize the materials within arms reach, I use my ability to turn found objects into beautiful art.
I use new and repurposed materials such as fabric, wood, paper, cereal boxes, wool, string, yarns, maps and all manner of items found and turned to artwork and sewn items. Most of my items have patterns and turorials for the DIYer.
I started learning to sew at age five (buttons on fabric and pillows for dolls) then worked my way into making most of my clothes, by high school I worked for my mom's outfitter company. I went to college for an industrial design degree but loved sculpture so much that I changed directions. Sculpture didn't make me any money to repay student loans so I started painting murals.
When kids came on the scene, I was reduced to sewing at the kitchen table. I built sets for a while and have basically learned as I went and taken every opportunity to grow and develop for the last 20 years, as a professional artist.
Collette: You have an amazing artistic background Gabrielle, and quite a number of interests! How was Bee Wise Bags born?
Gabrielle: Our team of wonderful family and friends came together to develop a beautiful reusable product line and from this venture I designed and developed patterns for the DIY customer as well. Our goal from the beginning has been to take steps toward better consumer habits:
To Reduce our Waste Footprint
To Be Wise Stewards of Creation
To Work as a Community to form a Healthy, Thriving Business
When we started our business in 2007 making reusable grocery bags, we held a contest with everyone we knew and picked the name by the most popular choice, but lo and behold we involved a lawyer (copyrights, etc.) and he found a grocery store in the Philippines that had the same name and thought it was better to leave Shop Wise in the far east and change ours. I did not heed his wise advice and kept the name for a year, got all our awesome web rankings, brand recognition etc, then changed it anyway.... So Bee Wise has been us ever since. Now we are Bee Wise Goods, Vintage, Notions, Art, Bags, Crafts, Gifts, and Stationery.
|At Indie Made with some of her creations|
Gabrielle: My mom recognized early on that I was creative and without direction I would waste a lot of her supplies. For a week straight I took spools of her thread and wound, strung, stretched it through my bedroom, the living room etc to create spider webs. I remember thinking they were really beautiful and I was proud of how intricate they were. My mom thought the first few were lovely as well, but as the week progressed and my floor to head height webs took over our house, she grew less patient, not to mention using every spool of thread she owned (it's expensive now and was then too). She put an end to it and told me to start sewing buttons on fabric or make small items for my dolls instead. So, at 5-6 I began my crafty life.
|Making fabric flower hair clips, like the one she's wearing|
I am pretty much the same now, I love making everything, my artistic focus is very wide. Not only do I make lots of little gift type things, I have two stores that carry all my recycled paper products, notions, small art pieces and a gallery that shows all my large artwork. I run with an idea until I come up with another one and then strike out in that direction. When I decided to start turning all my crafts into DIY patterns I struck gold for myself because I could make as many as I wanted but also offer it to other folks to make themselves.
Collette: What inspires you?
Gabrielle: As I am sure you have gathered, EVERYTHING inspires me! But I am really loving the coolness of repurposing, upcycling all that stuff, especially since I have always done it and until the last few years it wasn't looked at as cool just weird. :) My latest inspiration is vintage soda pop, so on November 1st I'm opening a soda shop near my house. It's a terrific happy place!!!
Collette: Thank you for the interview Gabrielle, and best of luck with the soda shop!
|Elegant Soft Doll pattern|
|Doll Bed and Linens pattern|
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