Etsy.com -- the online marketplace for handmade goods -- revolutionised the “craft” creative industry a decade ago. Launched in 2005 in NYC, the site offers a portal for sellers and buyers alike in the fields of art, illustration, paper goods, home and living.
Aussie homewares designer Grace Woods won this years award for “Business as Unusual” in the Etsy Design Awards for her use of natural fibres and dyeing techniques to create a unique range of soft textile including bed covers, throws and cushion covers. She spoke to The Huffington Post Australia after her win.
How did your Etsy business come about?
"I returned from an internship with Dutch fibre artist Claudy Jongstra in the Netherlands in 2013 with the intention of starting my own business hand making felt textiles and homewares. Etsy was a great option for selling my products because it is an online marketplace that is accessed by people all over the world."
What products do you produce?
"I hand make felt bedcovers, throws, wallhangings, cushion covers, baby blankets, scarves, table runners and the Cosy Cup which was co-designed by George Fattal. I use Merino wool and crossbred wool from my family farm, and I source other beautiful Australian-produced fibres like alpaca, mohair and corriedale fleece."
Can you talk us through the process of making them?
"Felt is one of the oldest textile traditions in the world and literally means “to mat”. The process begins with the shearing of sheep. The wool then needs to be cleaned of the lanolin (oil), which keeps the wool from knotting together whilst it is on the sheep’s back. Once it is cleaned, it can be carded. Carding is a type of combing or brushing of the fibre into pieces or batts, which can then be used for felting. To felt, wool is layered first vertically then horizontally. This process continues until the desired thickness is reached. Wool is then wetted down with water and a bit of soap. It is then covered in a synthetic fibre or bubble wrap, and agitated and rolled until the wool is matted together so that it forms a piece of textile. It can then be “fulled” (a process of rubbing on a board with ridges designed for this purpose), “shocked” (moved from very hot to very cold water and back again) and thrown to achieve desired texture, thickness and shrinkage. The finished felt can be rinsed and spun in the washing machine."
What are your best sellers?
The Cosy Cup, Blue Waves bedcover, Peace Out wall hanging and Blue Lace cushion cover.
Why are renewable and biodegradable materials important to you?
"There is a very large responsibility, as a designer, to consider the lifecycle of the products we design, because every choice we make can have a positive or negative impact on the earth. To me being sustainable is a way of life. When you have this perspective, choosing to use materials that will not deplete the earth's resources or harm the environment, and that will eventually break down, is just common sense."
Where do you see your brand in five years?
"In five years I aim to be working on large scale textile projects for commercial, residential and public spaces. I would like to be collaborating with innovative creative people and making work that reflects my values and and fulfills my creative ambitions."