Human anatomy printed on vintage dictionary pages. Cast iron horses jockeyed by real beetles. Earrings made of artificial teeth. The online wonder of Etsy is clearly not for the aesthetic conservative.
It is, however, the first place to go to quickly find something specific, like a birdhouse made from wine corks and stones collected from local vineyards and rivers.
Shoppers torn between the efficiency of online shopping and keeping dollars close to home are now turning to this virtual bazaar showcasing $61.9 million in handmade and vintage treasures, more and more since its inception in June 2012.
And, as fast as it is to find what you are looking for, it’s even easier to connect to real life artists making a living on their Etsy clientele. The online marketplace gives readers the chance to understand the artists’ inspirations and peruse hundreds of portfolio pieces.
Additional benefits that trump traditional shopping include saving money on gas, scanning a greater geographic distance in a fraction of the time, and the priceless value of staying in one’s bathrobe while shopping.
There are just as many benefits for the artist, too. Most obviously, artists don’t have to pay for a brick and mortar shop. There’s also no website hosting, design or start-up fees. Ambitious artists can also hold creative forums, which allow users to pool information and help one another set up ideal Etsy “shops,” which are the pages of the site for individual artists. Technical benefits include an Etsy “teacher” who recommends assignments to improve sales, then grades the vendor on performance, and Online Labs that teach selling techniques.
In short, the site is one of the best things to ever happen to artists and people who want to buy their work.
Getting Around the Site
If your perceived loss of human connection has you tsk-tsking over virtual shopping, read on.
• Etsy’s Community feature allows shoppers to quickly view the work of 114 registered artists in the Central Oregon area by typing “Bend” in the Teams search box and then sorting through the categories of handmade, vintage and supplies. This allows you to find exactly what you want and choose where your dollars go.
• The Discussions feature on Etsy allows viewers to participate in group banter on actual art events and learn about the process used for creating works.
• The Bio feature illuminates the impetus behind the creations.
• Vendors dialogue with shoppers, offering education, a history of their products and sometimes even information on what profits are used for. The time it would take to gather this much behind-the-scenes information on multiple products while shopping in person is just not realistic for most people.
Central Oregonians on Etsy
Photographer Franklin Jeffers captures his subject matter in portraits of growth and decay while escaping the throng of guests he serves at exotic locales as a traveling chef. From the jungles of Hawaii to the Alaskan wilderness, with Central Oregon somewhere in between, Jeffers is drawn to the isolation of nature around him and has a keen interest in unnaturally rapid growth. Jeffers likes patronizing Etsy both as a vendor and shopper because each personalized selling venue is an actual person’s “bread and butter.”
Jeffers’ Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/NomadicPhotos
Laura Walker’s zine, Welcome To Bend, interestingly is most purchased by buyers in the United Kingdom and Australia. It features “a community that is absurd and ordinary, ugly and beautiful,” in a parade of colorful characters. Walker’s most rewarding zine is a collaborative venture featuring the emotional drawings and story of Multnomah County Jail inmate Ryan Homsley, reminding folks in the free world that prisoners can still make valuable contributions to society.
Walker’s Etsy shop: www.walkerworld.etsy.com
Scot Quartucy scours saw mills for interesting textures and patterns to create lavish boxes from woods such as spalted maple, redwood burl, jatoba, palm and figured walnut. The love of the process shines through in each piece, along with lessons in composition and style.
Quartucy’s Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/squartucy
Inspired by the fact that landfills are rapidly filling with old tires, and the birth of her daughter Indie, Tiina McDermott creates sustainable beauty in the form of unusual, sexy wrist cuffs and earrings. Bike spokes and old bottles continue the trend as display for the jewels.
McDermott’s Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/IndieKulture
Disappearing eyebrows and lashes are just part of the deal at Ceci Capen’s backyard kiln, which reaches the mandatory 1,800 degrees required to properly imitate an Americanized version of Japanese raku firing. Capen’s method creates lovely, vibrant color fades and textures on the earthy vessels lining her studio walls.
Capen’s Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/CeciCapenClayStudio
Annika Rau created Buggabugs to offer children the opportunity to play with objects usually too messy, dangerous or sophisticated for their tender hands. Rau, along with her mother and sister, create and sell sewing patterns for stuffed felt play versions of Chinese Takeout, a doctor’s kit complete with x-rays, and a fully loaded tool belt..
Rau’s Etsy shop: www.buggabugs.etsy.com
Capturing the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 with his first camera at age 15 changed Clyde Keller’s photography goals, turning him away from pretty landscapes toward something deeper. The dramatic event honed his documentary style so finely that he was cast as a photographer for the Robert F. Kennedy campaign in 1968. Today he is known for those bittersweet, timeless images that only grow in value as time marches on.
Keller’s Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/ClydeKellerPhoto
Start Your Own
Want to start your own Etsy shop? Top tips from vendors are to make sure your photos look professional, that your product descriptions are detailed with relevant key words, that you keep adding fresh product, that orders are shipped immediately and that packages look exciting.