I have a very special shop to share with you today...plus an awesome giveaway! Michelle from TileMeBeautiful is offering readers the chance to win a $20 gift certificate from her Etsy shop. Read the interview below to find out more about Michelle and her work and for your chance to enter the giveaway. This is one not to miss!
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Michelle Gunnell (yeah, it rhymes). I live in Spring, TX. It's a little bit north-west of Houston. I have a spoiled rotten dog. Her name is Jersey. She's a 4-year-old Lab/Pointer mix. I have a BS in psychology, but I'm not sure what I'll ever really use it for. I don't really want to get a Master's at the moment.
Tell us about your art. What do you make? How did you come to your craft?
I tile just about anything I can get my hands on. I use mostly flooring tiles. They're thicker and more substantial than your usual mosaic tiles. They just have a look that I like better. Glass is my favorite, but I enjoy using ceramic, slate, and stone tiles as well. Most of the things I have right now are housewares, but I have so many ideas and I'd love to expand into different areas.
I actually discovered my craft in the middle of my divorce. I was hurting and needed something that I could do for myself. Something that I could throw myself into and really love. I needed to create something, if that makes any sense. I was never, ever good at art growing up, so I went for something kind of untraditional. During the really dark parts of the divorce, I was holed up in bed watching HGTV all day. I've always loved tile, but seeing it used so much in so many ways was what really got me thinking.
What inspires your work? Describe your creative process and tell us about your favorite materials to work with.
My personal style inspires a lot of it. I have to be careful to branch out to things that I normally wouldn't choose for myself though. I forget that someone out there likes different stuff than me. I just make things I would love to own. Standing in the flooring section of the store always inspires me! There's so much to look at. I usually don't create in wholes. I'll see a color tile mix I like or a beautiful 4"x4" tile and then my piece comes together around that one element.
The actual creating process can be kind of long and tedious. When you work with individual tiles, it’s hard to get them lined up. The type of mosaics I do require a sense of symmetry and evenness. I nudge, push, and pull each tile probably at least 20 times. If the piece is wooden, there’s two coats of stain or paint and two coats of sealer/polyurethane. Depending on the type you use, that could take up to four days. Then you stick the tiles down. The next day you can usually grout. I do two coats of grout, so that takes two days so that I can be sure the last coat is dry. I can’t seal the grout for another 24-48 hours, and I use two coats of that as well. That takes another day. There isn’t a whole lot of instant gratification involved. It’s usually almost a week before you get to see your finished product. You also have to be willing to get messy. I get grout all over myself - my elbows, my ears. I don’t use gloves when I grout (oops!). They get in my way and I feel like I have more control over the tile without them. Everything about it is sticky, smelly, or messy. I love it though!
What are your goals for your business?
I would love to be able to support myself doing this. Baby steps though! I'd just like to start out with some steady sales. Maybe get into some local shops. I have plans to do craft shows with my best friend, who also sells on Etsy. I'm mainly in the stage where I'm trying to get my name out there an network. I truly believe that good connections make for a good business, so I'm trying to support the handmade community and get involved in any way possible.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Running and biking with my dog. We do a lot of that. I also LOVE to read! I've pulled many all-nighters to finish a great book. Tiling takes up a lot of my time right now. I love to spend time with my best friend Stacy and her daughter Kaitlin. And does shopping count as a hobby??
What brought you to Etsy? Do you sell anywhere else?
After I decided I wanted to make my tiled stuff, I decided it might be nice to make some money at it! I had purchased something from a friend of a friend about a year ago on Etsy, and it came to mind. I didn't know much about the whole handmade movement until I started selling, but I've found it incredibly interesting and easy to immerse myself in. I also sell on Artfire, Zibbet, and Made It Myself.
Where can we find you online?
What is your favorite item in your shop?
Can I pick a section? My trays are always my favorite! A serving tray was the first thing I made, so that's special. Plus, I just love them. I also invest the most time in them.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned from your art and being an Etsy seller?
That you get what you give. I love to buy from handmade sellers and promote people on my sites. I love to chat in the forums and just make friends with other sellers. You get great advice, critiques, promotion and support.
Michelle is giving readers the chance to win a $20 gift certificate to her shop!
Here's how to enter:
First you MUST visit TileMeBeautiful and leave a comment with your favorite item.
For additional entries you can do any or all of the following, leaving ONE comment for EACH:
Become a follower of this blog or let me know if you already do- 1 additional entry
Follow Oceanside Creations on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway. Leave a link or your Twitter username in your comment - 1 additional entry
Blog about this giveaway with a link to this post- 2 additional entries (leave 2 comments)
Make a purchase from Michelle's shop TileMeBeautiful -5 additional entries
Leave a comment with your transaction #
That's 10 chances to enter this fabulous giveaway!