artist spotlight, plus handmade giveaway: crowbiz

to kick off Howd.i.y.’s new home… we are also introducing a new addition to the blog where we will feature unique and extraordinary handmade artists, the ARTIST SPOTLIGHT!

our first artist came to me as a stumble upon. i was browsing etsy one night looking for eclectic pieces that would make for a nice focal point on the walls in our new home. well, i found it. so, enter into the picture, CROWBIZ fuses nature & everyday prints w/ vintage materials such as old books & maps – making for art on art (even better, it’s ‘affordable art’. the majority of prints run $10 – 13).

*fox on a vintage piece of map from Quebec, Canada*
you could win this print! read on for more info….

i recently caught up with carol wannemacher the genius behind this ‘etsy shop that could’ (she’s had nearly 3000 orders!) and here is what she had to say. (ps – make sure you read to the end… as we have an exciting bit of info to come)

Tell me about yourself…
I currently reside in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in Western New York. Fortunately, my craft has turned into full-time work for me and provides most of my income. However, my background is probably an atypical one for a crafter or artisan; I have a doctorate in cognitive psychology and have taught at local colleges for many years. Giving in to creative impulses a few years ago sort of took over, and fortunately, I was able to parlay my art into income. I do still teach a couple courses per year, which gets me out of the attic and in contact with real humans where I can use big words. Sometimes it feels like a weirdly double life.

What is the background of Crowbiz?
Using recycled, repurposed and found materials has always been an interest. My husband and I collect of lot of humble, vintage items and appreciate beauty in the simple and the real. Part of it also stems from my frugal German background which dictates “waste not, want not.” The idea of having to invest in lots of new material to create something different doesn’t appeal to me, and it’s a creative challenge when you try to employ what’s already available. There is such an wealth of useable materials out there that people overlook. I can never believe how many books end up on the curb.

CrowBiz developed around 10 years ago (I was doing ornaments and work with clay), but took a back seat as my two boys came along. Officially, I launched CrowBiz three years ago when I started to sell items locally and when I opened my Etsy shop. My debut sale was a set of pig magnets which I still sell today. I participate in a few shows and markets around the Western New York area, but only a select few “fun” ones. I hope to ease into larger venues and maybe do one or two local large festivals in 2011. Wholesale orders, which I’d like to increase, are another smaller segment of my business and I have items in shops around the U.S., and a few in Canada and Australia.

What is your “process”?
Well, I don’t really have what you’d call a process. I make what appeals to me. When I was more heavily into making magnets and 3D pieces, my motto was “I glue stuff to other stuff.” Sometimes I sit on the floor, look at the materials around me – books, maps, blocks, found objects, jewelry supplies, etc – and a thought pops up about what might go together. Clearly, I like a vintage vibe, text, and themes of nature, biology, anatomy. Because day-to-day life and business tend to be so busy, I don’t have as much creative, experimental time as I’d like, but the ideas are always on the back burner.

What is your favorite material to print on?
My favorite material for prints is probably maps. Every print comes out so different. I have a cache of topographical maps which I love, which have a nature feel, and plenty of vintage atlases for the “world” feel. Like a lot of crafters, I go through phases where I get into making one kind of thing, then switch gears and get on a jag with another. Prints, block, pendants, back to prints, and so on….

What can we expect to come from Carol & Crowbiz?
Time is always a factor, but I hope to roll out some new lines in coming months. I’m starting to learn letterpress techniques at the Western New York Book Arts Center ( , a wonderful resource for this re-emerging art. And my other new fascination is cyanotypes. I’m all set up and ready to experiment with images, but I want to make them outside, and Buffalo in the fall/winter can be a little iffy with UV light (sigh…). Timing is everything.

GIVEAWAY: if you’d like a special giveaway print from crowbiz – well you may be in luck! we are giving away the lovely *fox on a vintage piece of map from Quebec, Canada* as seen above. entering is easy, simply add your info HERE. entries close october 26.

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