Etsy Shopping

Is it Spring Yet?


I am always cruising around Etsy to pine over their goodies and now that Spring is on the horizon, I’ve got green on the brain! These were my favorite pieces for this Spring season (so far)!

Photograph by anamercedesphoto
Pocket Planter by sewZinski
Watercolor Painting is from FrancescaLancisi
Hanging Planter Zillpa

Artist and Maker: Elly MacKay

You might have seen in my sidebar a little tweet oogling Elly’s beautiful artwork, but I must admit, I am a little bit of a cyberstalker and saw her work on Etsy last year and fell madly in love! (I also might have purchased a few prints for Christmas presents!!)

Between Tides    A Day to Celebrate

I make miniature worlds out of paper. I ink up a paper called Yupo paper, cut it into layers and set inside a miniature theater. I play with the lighting, and adjust the elements and then photograph the scenes. I often take 50 or more photos to get the one I am looking for.” 

With an obvious careful hand, Elly combines illustration, cut paper and photography into such whimsical narrative pieces. I love how the photograph above really puts into perspective the detail Elly considers while transforming these still scenes into beautiful pieces of artwork.

Bells and Whistles

The Clouds Were Both Above and Below
Isn’t she just the best?  Here are a few tid bits from her interview with Etsy when she was a Featured Seller.

Where does your inspiration come from? I found my inspiration through playing with Victorian inventions. I love tunnel books, magic lanterns, stereoscopes, paper theaters, and zoetropes — they are so magical. My daughter inspires the stories my images tell. In some ways I feel I’ve entered a second childhood and I’m able to see the world through her eyes. She sees the world in such a fantastical way. The other day she made little parcels for the spider that has taken up residence in our bathroom.

When She Held Her Child

How would you describe your creative process? My creative process usually begins with an idea and title; the image. follows close behind. I have a big whiteboard in my studio and I play with themes — weather, creatures, botany, etc. I do really loose drawings there. I keep them up for a while to see what comes from them. I love experimenting as well…. I make a few cut elements from yupo paper and ink or play with the ones I “store” on the wall. Once I have enough layers I begin to install them in my theater. I use filters of coloured tissue to create a distant landscape or clouds and then I take many, many photos of the scene, changing little things here or there.
What Awaits at the Station

Elly is an artist to watch out for – it was so hard to even try and decide which images to post on here because everything is amazing! You would be a real fool not to check out her Etsy shop here!!

And thank you to Elly for bringing imaginative images into the world and allowing Munro Shea Designs to use your artwork for this post.

We’re Digging…

I first fell in love with 2of2 when I saw them on Etsy and with over 8,000 admirers you can see why!  I was looking for a present for my Dad and I thought something for his office would be best, and that is when I laid eyes on this bad boy:
I can’t even begin to explain how perfect this was for my Dad. It had all the elements that we bond over –  fine motor skills, wood structure of some sort, design and love of architecture. And the fact that 2of2 is run by a brother sister duo, Dan and Mer, makes it even better.
“We opened the shop on what would have been our mother’s 61st birthday, 10/27/12.   She passed away in July 2012 after a year battle with cancer.   It was during that time that Dan and I put our careers on hold  (so did our other 4 siblings 🙂 to be home with our mom.   While home, Dan, always an artist, began creating what we now call Ghost Houses and Tabletop Forests.   And I started to reevaluate how much time I spending in the office instead of with those I loved.   So we made the decision that summer that in honor of our mom, we would pursue 2of2 goods.   When we opened it was as much a healing exercise as anything, but as business grew, we knew we were beginning an exciting new chapter of our lives. “
“The first house was probably made a year before we opened our shop. The original design required us to hand cut each individual piece of wood and glue the frame together one tiny piece at a time – it could take a day to make one house!   We now laser cut pieces of the frame, which we then have to assemble. “
“Working with the wooden frames are the easiest because they are the most consistent material.  The reclaimed wood is a different adventure every time and the acrylic houses can be “temperamental.”  429868-610x610-1372610799-primary.png
(All the bases are made out of reclaimed wood) “We search farms in Pennsylvania (where our dad lives) for the reclaimed wood – a fun Sunday activity! We tend to work on batches of different steps (i.e. carve 100 trees, cut 50 bases), so hard to say how long it takes or how many we make.   We are still very new to this, so we are constantly brainstorming about new designs and ways to make our existing designs better and more quickly.”il_570xN.497063509_ew61
In the future we hope to expand our company and our designs – we have more ideas than we could ever possibly keep up with, but right now we are just happy to be doing what we love and chasing a dream 🙂
And they are constantly updating their Etsy page with their creations! Every time I look there is something new in their shop. In true artist fashion they are taking risks with their craft. Dan and Mer are such inspirations – true artisans. Their little homes are pieces of artwork created with so much thought. Read their tumblr blog to see more of Dan and Mer! And thank you to both for sharing their story and work with Munro Shea Designs!

Q & A with Coastal Creator, Rissa


Rissa, the creator behind Etsy’s successful ‘The Coastal‘ Shop, has been on a roll! Recently gracing the homepage of Etsy and endless Etsy collections, Rissa took the time to answer some of MSD’s questions!

Where/What do you gather inspiration for your designs? And what is your inspiration for your color palette?

I’m mostly inspired by my architecture background. I’m a softy for geometries, and simple geometries definitely are my biggest inspiration. 

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How long does it take you to paint each coaster?
Typically I spend anywhere from 10-30 mins to paint each coaster. Right now, since I just started out, I can devote that amount of time to each set, but when things pick up in the future, I’ll definitely have to rethink my process.
What type of paint are you using? Do you create a stencil before, or are just that awesome that you are ‘eye balling everything? 
I use water-based non-toxic acrylic paint on all of the coasters. Some designs are done freehand, but the majority of them are painted with the help of stencils that I cut out of thin vinyl. Due to the intricacies of my designs, it’d be virtually impossible to paint freehand and still make them look clean!
Did you experiment with materials before you found the right combination? 
I actually didn’t have to experiment much before I found the perfect materials. I knew that I needed to use ceramic bisque because I wanted a natural color and feel, so it was just a matter or narrowing down the ceramic by examining the quality and durability. For the paint, I chose acrylics because the ceramic is very porous before it’s sealed, and I needed to use a paint that wouldn’t bleed or cause a big mess. The only thing that took some time was finding the right sealant. I needed it to be waterproof, heatproof, and fade resistant, so it took some testing. My husband and I spent a lot of time trying to destroy some coasters, but I’m pretty confident that I have the perfect combination now though. 
Do you come from an arts related back round?
I actually do! I studied architecture at the USC (University of Southern California), and have been working in architecture since I was 16.
I see that you just opened up your Etsy shop in May, what made you decide to do so? (And why did it take you so long to, your pieces are amazing!)
Thank you so much! I decided to open the shop kind of on a whim. I was talking to my husband one evening about how neat it would be for my designs to be in people’s homes, and he encouraged me to give etsy a shot. I work full time at an architecture firm, so I just never felt like I could devote the time. It’s definitely working out so far though!
What type of camera are you using to take your product photos? They look great! I feel like such an etsy-photo-snob, sometimes I won’t even like look at something if the photos aren’t awesome!!
Thank you! I use a pretty basic DSLR, and then do a bit of retouching in Lightroom to make sure colors are spot on accurate.
What type of ‘custom’ pieces have you sold? Does the client have the design already and you go wild with it?
So far, the only custom orders I have received have been for different color schemes. I’d love if the opportunity to do custom designs came up in the future though!
I love your branding, was your location the inspiration behind the brand name ‘The Coastal’?
Thank you! Pacific Grove definitely played a part in the name. I wanted the name to relate to my product, but I also wanted it to have some personal meaning too! 
And lastly! Do you have a favorite set you’ve created?
Definitely the coasters I’ve made for my parents. So far I’ve stayed away from having any text in my designs, but for Mother’s and Father’s day, I painted personal messages on their coasters.
Thank you so much The Coastal for answering all of our questions!