Monday, May 3, 2010

Interview with Star & Crossbones

Who are you?
I'm a thinking, dreaming, exploration-happy, science-loving, granola-eating, tree-hugging "hippie" skeptic with a strong sense of compassionate justice and an appreciation for sharp pointy things and things that go "BOOM!" ;) I love a good story. I like to be logical and realistic — and I think it's both to think the universe is cooler than many people realize. ;)

What do you create?
My Etsy shop has a funky mix of stuff in it right now — handmade chain mail jewelry AND textiles/fiber arts stuff. My boyfriend, Brian, makes the chain mail, while I make hand spun yarn, stitch markers, handwoven items and knitting patterns. I'm not sure I've seen that combination of offerings anywhere else ;), but aside from that, we try to offer different styles of handmade items than we see other people making.
With my hand spun yarn, I dye my own spinning fiber in colors inspired by nature, mythology, and pirates. The yarn in the shop right now mostly has long color transitions — the skein starts one color and ends another color, so that whatever is knit from it will be at least three colors. Next I'll be adding solids/semi-solids.
On the hand wovens, I like to weave airy pieces with more color than weight, since Florida isn't really the best place for heavy winter wovens. I especially like to use recycled and hand spun yarn, since it lends a lot of character and uniqueness. I'm planning on offering more handwoven accessories soon — purses, tote bags, belts. My newest loom is a 32-inch, which I got because what I *really* want to do is weave fabric to make clothing and costumes out of. I'm aiming to have some summer clothes in the shop in the next couple of months, and some costumey accessories like belt pouches and pirate sashes and bandannas soon after that.

How did you come about your store name?
My business name, Star and Crossbones, is a personal in-joke about pirates and Jedi and the other weird fantasy-based bits of my identity that I was trying to nurture by starting the business. It's partly a reference to the pirate flag, the Jolly Roger — a.k.a. the skull and crossbones — while the "star" part is a two-pronged reference to all things fantastic and also to Star Wars, which has been a big part of my inspiration to create. (Yeah. I'm a geek.) Anyway, Star Wars pushed me over the line into REALLY learning to sew, so I could create the perfect Jedi costume, and once I had that momentum, it was natural to learn the other fiber/textile-related crafts I'd had my eye on for a while. Basically, the name is my way of reminding myself of the origins and goals of the business — to be myself, to explore my creativity, to be independent and free-thinking and create beautiful things that inspire me and hopefully inspire other people.

What is the crafting utensil you cannot live without?
It sounds generic, but scissors are a giganto part of the things I make that I love most — I need them to cut paper and other decorations for mail art/altered art like artist trading cards, to cut fabric for costumes, and to cut commercial yarn for weaving and knitting. I really enjoy cutting fabric — once I'm extremely sure that I know exactly where I'm cutting. ;)

What is your favorite material to work with?
Either fabric with great drape and lots of texture (even if that texture is "smoothness" ;)) or jewel-toned gemstones. (You can tell if I really like a gemstone or bead because I usually go "Nom nom nom" like I want to eat it. ;)) I think what fabric and gemstones have in common is that different types have distinct traits, personalities and uses, and there's a lot of variety to explore within the different types. And they both have great pokability and visual appeal — meaning I like to touch them and stare at them. ;)

What is your life like outside of Etsy?
Well, I had an office job (as an editor for a government magazine — woooeeeooo) up until I left it in October of last year to work on Star and Crossbones and to get my head back in the academic game — I've been wanting to get my graduate degree in anthropology. Right now, though, there is only the Craft. ;) I'm hoping that now that I make my own hours, though, I can start to do things again that I didn't have time or energy for while I had the office job.
For one thing, I used to love outdoorsy stuff like spending the day at the beach or the park, camping, hiking or learning about local plants and wildlife. And I used to write a lot, mostly fantasy novels and what I call "rant poetry," which is like detoxing with words. ;) I super-need to finish writing a book this year; it's pretty pathetic how long I've been working on some of them. I also love reading and stage combat and I'd love to get back into dancing — someone I know from Long Ago has a ballet studio now, which seems like a sign that I should start again. AND I'm just finishing up my Web design diploma — so right now I'm doing lots of homework, but soon ... soon I will escape!
Oh, and I play a lot of silly Facebook games ... yeah, I know. It's ridiculous. ;) (Come friend me if you want to play with me, though.)

What is your favorite feature on Etsy?
It's not really a "feature," but handmade stuff is AWESOME, and I'm glad Etsy is around to highlight the range of weird, wacky, beautiful and inspiring stuff people are making out there. Maybe my favorite feature is the inspiration factor? ;) The Alchemy section is also really neat — I never actually use it, but I like to check it out and see what people are asking for. It helps keep me from getting stuck in a single-themed creative mindset or feeling like people are only interested in one thing.

What do you enjoy "window shopping" on Etsy on your free time?
Totally! I'm weirdly obsessed with the food category especially. I'm a closet foodie wannabe — I just haven't put in the hours to really count as one yet.

Is there an online "tool" that you like to use?
I am constantly checking Google Analytics and BlogPatrol for Web traffic statistics, and CraftCult for heart statistics. There's also CraftCount, which gives specific sales numbers for the top Etsy sellers in different categories. (Not that you can tell I'm a big fan of statistics and research...)

What other interests do you have?
I think I covered a lot of that in the "What's your life outside Etsy like?" question, but to add a few, right now I'm practicing for the dragon boat races that are happening locally on May 1 (, and after that I'll be going back to a local play reading group full of lovely talented actors who have been nice enough to let me read with them. Maybe next year I'll be doing pirate cannon/weapons demonstrations again, too.

Where in Florida do you live?
Right now I live in Palm Harbor, which is not terribly far from St. Petersburg, the city where I was born. One of the cool things about living here is that I can pretty much indulge whatever mood I'm in without going more than 45 minutes away from the house (and it only takes that long because of traffic, not physical distance ;)) — there are art fairs, campgrounds, beaches, upscale shopping areas, animal sanctuaries, organic farms, thrift stores, gourmet restaurants and bakeries, music festivals and museums and libraries, all relatively close to where I live. Now I just need to organize my time and finances so that I can fit all of them into my life. You might think that after spending my entire life here, I'd have the hang of it, but apparently not. Things change too much. ;)

Could you recommend a fun activity near your Fl home that other members might enjoy?
The Tarpon Springs sponge docks are fun to visit — there are some great Greek restaurants (especially the Hellas bakery, if you like sweets), you can watch the fishing boats come in, there's some touristy kitschy shopping, and there's a cute tiny aquarium with a lot of personality. The owner dives with the sharks himself ... and if you want to see a guy hug a shark five feet from where you're sitting, that's the place to do it!

What are some other sites to find out more about you and your art?
My craft blog:
My Flickr account:
My Facebook fan page:
My crafty Web site:
My Ravelry account:

What animal would you like to be for one day and why?
A dragon, so I can be big, pretty, scary, magical, and capable of flying, but still be able to talk. And also so I could go find a bunch of magical thingies to keep using if/when I had to stop being a dragon. ;)

What “super” power would you like to have and why?
The ability to grant other people objectivity, emotional balance and rational thought. :D Because it frustrates me ridiculously when people hold themselves and/or other people back out of negativity or ignorance based on fear. (I'm pretty sure I just made that question more serious than it was meant to be, but I'm weird like that. ;))

Thanks for interviewing me! It was the first interview I've ever done as the person answering rather than the person asking. ;) Hopefully everybody else enjoys reading it as much as (or even more than!) I enjoyed doing it.



  1. From one tree hugger to another, Love your interview! Also love the fact that you and your boyfriend work together in etsy. Very Cool.

  2. As someone who knows Crystal IRL, this interview is *so* her. What an extraordinary person!

  3. Great interview! I will have to check out Blog patrol.

  4. Fun interview and fun shop! I may have to take a day trip to the sponge docks - I've never been.

  5. I'm glad I found this interview. And her blog is a blast, well worth checking out!