Wednesday, April 22, 2015

TCS Artist Feature - Elsie Gunzburg from Anya Mae Designs

Usually when I do an artist feature, I use the question and answer format, but Elise did such a wonderful job telling her story, I'm going to leave it that way.  Enjoy!

Anya Mae Designs
The name Anya Mae Designs became because it is my youngest daughters unused given name.  She chose to go by her middle name when she was 5 and I just loved the name Anya Mae so much that I wanted its song like quality to bless my business.  I moved to the area of Brattleboro, Vermont in 1979, at 20 years old.  Having grown up in Connecticut, I craved a more natural environment in which to put down roots, grow food, and more deeply connect with the earth.  A simple earth centered path has, for me, been essential to my spiritual life, and off grid living has shaped my entire adulthood.  For myself, my husband, and four children, the cycles of nature have dictated much of our activities on our secluded forested mountain.  Over the years this includes homesteading, growing vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, farmers markets, raising animals, snowboarding, and bringing in wood for the cold season.  For me the winter is a fruitful time to explore handcrafts and potent creativity.  From this synergistic union of creativity, forested surrounds, and below freezing temperatures came the fashionable hood designs that I feature here for sale.

Hood - $130.00
Changing and evolving since 2009, my hoods embody the charm of functional art pieces customary to a rural Vermont lifestyle.  Each creation is unique and one of a kind, mirroring the value of individuality that I treasure.  The first hoods were made for myself after a sudden fall haircut had reduced my long hair to very short.  Feeling vulnerable against the Vermont winter, I went to work crocheting, adjusting, combining, and adding until a full year of experimentation yielded a solid design.  The backdrop of this hood creating was the busy life of this mom of four trying to keep up in a modern world without the usual conveniences of most houses, no internet, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.  Crocheting was fit in between appointments, chores, meals, dishes, driving and all that motherhood entails.  Evening crocheting became synonymous with essential wind down time by the woodstove.  It fit in well with multitudes of interruptions.  It wasn’t long before passers by were
complementing and inquiring the origins of my hoods and I began to make them to sell.  The loose fit helps maintain hairstyles and the drape covering the neck keeps one cozy.  The style can catapult a person into feelings of a romantic long ago time that reminds of the real magic sparkling in every passing breeze.  They are warm, practical, protective, and a lot of fun to wear.  Wear one and be ready to stand out in a crowd. 

Beaded Cabochon Necklace
Native American style seed bead jewelry construction began when I was a little girl beginning with loom work.  In my early twenties this evolved into leatherwork and also elaborate bead frames for cabochons and intricate neck pieces.  Being a real woods country girl, I did not pursue selling these pieces and gave them away to family, mostly due to their sentimental value and labor investment.  I now create a wide variety of jewelry featuring cabochons framed in leather, seed beads, and crocheted cordage.  I also offer elegant crochet pouch settings for Shiva lingams, crystals, and polished stones.  Another jewelry style is pressed design polymer pendants with gold accents.  Largely one of a kind, these are pressed images that range from butterflies to Celtic knots to mandalas.  They are fun and elegant and inexpensive.  The ideas and creations never cease with this designing mind.

Bulky Crochet Alpaca Hood
Time has always been my biggest obstacle.  With one foot in the world of a simple rural lifestyle and one foot in the fast paced American paradigm, there is precious little time to create.  And this is such a treasured activity for me…the creation.  Such an interplay of forces converging to weld a finished product.  I always see it as a collaboration of sorts with all that goes into a piece, including the circumstances occurring while under construction.

Pressed Pendants - $10.00
I live in Southern Vermont in a small town that has an elementary school, town office, town garage, a Grange, tiny library, and a general store.  The rest is just houses, trees, and fields.  We live 4 miles down dirt roads and a mile and a half away from electrical and phone lines.  We are probably about the most remote inhabitants in our town.  My advise to someone just starting out is have a good time.  It's best to combine pleasure with meeting financial needs so love what you make.  And keep it fresh.

And that is Elise's story.  I love getting to know our artists, and I hope you enjoyed this too.
Until next time,
Debbi
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