Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Feature- Black Willow Soaps, Salts, and Candles

Eucalyptus Speariment scented Avocado Cucumber Soap 
How did you name your business?
I bought a house this year and was researching
 landscaping ideas. I came across the Black 
Willow Tree in a search engine when looking 
for willow trees that could be planted in Florida.
 Since I was a little girl in Indiana, I always 
loved Willow Trees. Since I do not have a back 
yard that resembles the everglades, I was out
 of luck if I wanted to have a Black Willow Tree
 in my landscaping. When I was trying to come
 up with a name for the shop, Black Willow just
 stuck. I couldn't get it out of my mind. So, I
 went with it. Since I have been married, 
about five years, I have looked back to my
 roots and tried to pull pieces of my roots
 into my home, my personality, and the 
things that I create. Willow trees are a 
part of those roots, from Indiana.

How long have you been doing your art/craft for?
I have been on Etsy since January 5th of this year. I have been making candles for about five years now. The soaps and bath salts started about 4 years ago. I made them as Christmas gifts for my family and friends, in little baskets with loofas and movies. Unfortunately for the men, I never had any manly scents, so they got movie baskets instead.
 Stormy Night scented Creme Candle 
I have been creating art since my junior year of high 
school. I moved to Florida in the summer before my
 junior year of high school. In Indiana I was in 
musicals, show choir, student counsel, band, and 
cheerleading. When I was uprooted by my mother
 after the company that she went for went bankrupt, 
I lost myself down here. The music program was 
horrible. I had never thought about doing art. I just
 took the regular art classes that I needed to get the
 credits to graduate. My art teacher, Mrs. Brandt, 
pulled me from chorus and asked me to be in her 
portfolio art class. I still have my first painting. From
 there I won art awards and participated in 
Can-struction. I was accepted at Ringling School of 
Art and Design in Bradenton. My mother couldn't
 afford the tuition and instead I started out at community college. The art teacher and I didn't see eye to eye, so I dropped and joined the army. Years later I went back to college and got my Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and my Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology. I know, not exactly artsy. I worked as a child protective investigator for about a year, a child welfare case manager for a little over a year, and am now working with senior citizens. Unhappy with my career choices thus far, I started creating candles, soaps, and other products to soothe me and here I am.
What inspires and influences your work?
Monkey Farts Bath Salt
I love new smells. I think that my biggest influence is
 just a fragrance oil store. I go to the flea market here
 in Fort Myers, Florida on the weekends and scout
 for new and exciting scents. I check out the local
 merchandise and build on that. My family and
 friends are extremely supportive, which inspires
 me to keep going everyday through my less 
than desirable job to get to come home and
 make fragrant and wonderful things.

Where can you artwork/pieces be found?
Right now, they are really only on Etsy. I am working on getting into craft shows with my mother, who makes faux floral arrangements. I am processing the idea of starting my own website to kind of break away from my competition on Etsy, but I do love the community and the assistance of all of the etsy members. I think that it is a wonderful site to get into if even just to learn from others and be in touch with other people who share your passion.

What do you do when your not creating?
Honestly, it seems as if I am working all of the time! Even my trips to the beach are consumed with work for my shop! Seriously, if I am not creating something or dreaming up something, I am working as a case manager for senior citizens to try and keep them in their homes instead of going to a nursing home. I have a husband and an 11 year old stepdaughter who I enjoy spending time with, when I can tear myself away from the Black Willow Soaps shop. Of course, like I said, even when I am spending time with my family, I am still thinking about something to create or working on getting something that I can use to create something. I took my husband to the beach with me a few weekends ago just to get shells for candles and go to thrift stores in search of coffee mugs for candles! However, every Friday night I go to my mother's house for dinner and a movie to relax and keep good company.

What is your favorite piece(s) that you have created?
My favorite so far is the Lavender Oatmeal Shea Butter Soap with Lavender Blossoms.
Lavender Oatmeal Shea Butter Soap 

Why did you create this piece(s)?
I was asked by my Aunt Amy if my soaps would be 
harsh on her skin. She apparently gets rashes from 
store bought soaps. I had not created this particular
 soap yet, but after talking to her I thought that it
 might be a good solution to her problem. I made
 up a sample and sent it out to her in the Dakotas
. It really helped her and she eventually bought a
 couple of bars.

What do you feel is special about your art/craft?
I get to create things that are useful to people and that people like to use everyday. I get to solve problems with my products and I get to hear feedback and learn from it. I hand make every one of my items individually. I put a lot of time and thought into each product including the way that it smells, looks, and how it will be packaged. I think that the most special thing about my soap products is that they are all boxed in handmade boxes that I learned how to make from my stepdaughter. She learned how to make gift boxes in her middle school art classes and was kind enough to show me how to do it. She laughed, of course, at my first attempt at making one, but once the first box was made it was absolute that the soaps should be placed in those boxes.

Are there other forms of art and crafts you would like to learn? And why?
I am always up for learning new arts and crafts. I dabble in sewing, crocheting, and cross stitching. As I said before, I have created several art pieces. I have dabbled in several media such as charcoal, colored pencil, acrylic, oil, and mixed media. I tried my hand at watercolor, but I just can't seem to go anywhere with it. I think that I was better at watercolor when I was about five years old than I am now. I have created two quilts, one for my bed and one for my stepdaughter's bed. I am working on a third for the guest bedroom. I would love to learn how to knit, just because I don't know how and I have seen other people create some amazing things when knitting.
 French Vanilla Pear scented Body Spray 
Shop Name: Black Willow Soaps, Salts, and Candles

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