At some point in her life, almost every woman dreams of owning a garment by a famous designer. While wearing couture fashions may be luxurious, it will never beat the charm, and the thrill of wearing something that is one hundred percent one of a kind and unique. When we buy upcycled clothing, there is very little chance that any other person in the universe will have the same pieces. There is nothing more personal or stylish than a handmade wardrobe.
At pondhopper, artist and designer Lorraine turns forgotten fabrics and clothing into remarkable new fashions. She also creates a wonderful selection of jewelry, accessories and home décor items from reclaimed and sustainable materials. Oh Canada has put the spotlight on pondhopper.
Oh Canada: Of all the things that you create, which item or style is your favorite?
Lorraine: I love variety, so it changes depending on the day you ask me! I like working on concepts that are not fully dictated in the beginning and the final outcome is a bit of a surprise because it has evolved throughout the creation process.
Oh Canada: Where did you learn your skills?
Lorraine: Formally, I pursued drawing, painting, papercrafts and sculpting throughout my school and college years, studied sewing and textiles in England and learned about jewelry in Montreal. Informally, I grew up helping my Mum sew my dance costumes and learning photography from my Dad – I can still remember going into the attic where the darkroom was and watching the magical process of pictures appearing on a blank sheet of paper (pre-digital of course!). I continue to devour new knowledge through many avenues – there is so much to learn!
Oh Canada: Everyone has different motivations for making their unique wares. What drives you to create?
Lorraine: I’d love to give you some noble or profound reason, but the truth is I am just addicted to everything about the process of creation - from the initial inspiration to the end result, I love it all! I really enjoy taking something that has a previous life and may otherwise be discarded and turning it into a unique new piece to be loved.
Oh Canada: If you could learn to use any new technique or material, what would it be?
Lorraine: Well of course I have a list! But the top five would be: lost-wax casting, book sculpting, glass blowing, metalsmithing, carpentry, watercolour painting, and calligraphy. O.k. that’s seven!
Oh Canada: Any plans to incorporate a new product into your shop this year?
Lorraine: No plans, but I’m sure there will be something new!
Oh Canada: What is your favorite thing about selling on Etsy?
Lorraine: Meeting wonderful people from across the globe. I also love hearing the stories and comments about how my items are used by their new owners.
Oh Canada: Do you have a number one tip for new sellers?
Lorraine: Don’t open up as a seller right off the bat - become a buyer first then take some time to thoroughly understand Etsy; hang out in the forums where there is a wealth of information to help you establish a successful shop (but avoid the negative and/or discouraging threads); purchase some items to experience the transaction process from a buyers viewpoint. This is valuable learning time that will help you decide how you want to present your brand - from the look of you shop, through policies, pricing and customer experience.
Oh Canada: What is your favorite thing to buy on Etsy?
Lorraine: It would be easier to list what I don’t like buying! Prior to “pondhopper”, my shop was called “House of Mouse” (had to set up a new shop as Disney has that name trademarked!). I made hundreds of purchases (all in the name of research you understand!), but if I had to nail it down to one favourite I would have to say merino wool roving – gorgeous, beautiful, oh so soft roving in such delicious colours that came from sheep with names that I got to know – completely irresistible!
Oh Canada: What is the number one best item (listing) in your shop right now?
Lorraine: MADELINE. I love the contrast between the masculine wool tweed and the lacy, vintage cotton doilies. I also enjoyed the opportunity to create something for a little girl - I have two sons, grew up with two brothers and their friends, my husband has two brothers…not a girl in sight in my family!
Copyright 2010 Oh Canada Team and pondhopper