Hey guys, today I’m thrilled to have Amy Byrne from Random Acts of Amy! I love interviewing other fellow artists and getting to know them so I’m super happy to have Amy here today.
Lets get to know her:
Who are you? Where are you from?
My name is Amy Byrne, and I live in a far South Chicago suburb. Prior to moving to this area five years ago, I spent most of my life in Rockford, IL, and still consider that home.
I’m a hand embroidery artist who embroiders images and text that range from the whimsical, to the unexpected, to the evocative, on a range of playful and vintage inspired fabrics. A library branch manager by day, I spend pretty much every other waking moment as the creative force behind Random Acts of Amy.
Do you sell you handmade items?
I do sell my handmade items! I sell online on Etsy (link below), I sell in person at markets, and I sometimes have items in indie shops.
When/why did you decide to sell your work?
I started selling my work in November 2013 after MUCH urging from family and friends. Prior to that, I would make pieces and when family and friends would tell me they liked it, I would give my work away to them. When I finally decided to take the plunge and sell my work, I started on Etsy for the 2013 holiday season. In 2014, with a lot of help and support from my husband, we sold at two markets in Rockford.
This year we have one market under our belts with two definite markets on the horizon. First is on Sunday, July 19th in Lockport, IL, a trunk show as a part of my involvement in The Artist Guild of Lockport. The second is on Saturday, September 12th at Urban Farmgirl’s Main Street Market at Midway Village in Rockford, IL. We’ll probably do one holiday show, and I have some feelers out to get my pieces at a shop in Minnesota, and a couple others in Rockford.
I’m going to reevaluate my participation in markets at the end of this year. Markets are A LOT of work! I have a full time job that carries a lot of responsibility, a husband, adult son, three dogs and a cat, house, and yard that demand my attention, too. Sometimes when I get home from work I’m worn out, and I just want to crash and read or veg in front of the TV and not have to worry about anything. If I’m prepping for a market, there are 1,001 things that I need to do, and it becomes overwhelming for me. I definitely need to connect in person with other small shop operations like myself. I have a strong online group of people I connect with from all over the country and world, and I’d like to have that same support system in person.
What does the term “Indie” mean to you?
To me, indie means a small operation, five or fewer people who are a part of it, and most likely one person. Indie feels edgy to me, which I like. It means items that are different from the norm, and not mass produced.
What is your favorite type of crafting?
My absolute favorite type of crafting/creating/art making is hand embroidery! I like to dabble in a lot of different mediums, but I always come back to hand embroidery. The tactile nature of embroidery endlessly fascinates me. I love the texture and feel of fabrics and different stitches, and combine them in ways not only to better render an image, but also to entice the viewer to want to touch the surfaces, as well. Hand embroidering allows me the time to create and relax; there’s nothing so soothing as pulling floss through fabric.
Explain a little bit about your process.
I almost always start off with a pattern when I hand embroider. Depending on what I’m creating, it might be an intricate pattern, or it might be a vague representation, or a combination of the two. For example, for the Mason jar bouquet necklaces, I draw a Mason jar onto the fabric, but then wing it when embroidering the flowers and floral elements in the jar.
What does your workspace look like?
I have a studio in our home, but it is almost always in a total state of mess! My favorite place to embroider is in my comfy chair in the living room while binge watching a TV show on Netflix or Hulu (My current favorite is The Almighty Johnsons on Netflix.) We have three dogs and one cat, so at some point I generally have my Chihuahua Zuzu on my lap, Chihuahua Sidney at my side, cat Karma on the ottoman, and Labrador mix Mina staring at me, wishing she were a smaller dog!
I have a rolling three-tiered cart that’s by my side, and it has a variety of floss, needles, beads, fabric, and a variety of other supplies on it. It’s handy when we have guests because I can move it into my studio. I have a floor model Ott lamp that I have to have turned on when I embroider. Clear, bright light is essential for me to see what I’m doing.
What is one thing you have you learned from your business?
I’ve learned a lot in my 1.5 years in business, but the most valuable lesson is to not start working on a custom project until I’m paid. I have been stuck a few of times by people I know who either pay me late, or didn’t pay at all. In the last cases, I was stuck with pieces that had no meaning to me or anyone but the person who commissioned it.
What inspires you?
I get inspiration all over the place! I really enjoy embroidering my favorite song lyrics, quotes, or sayings. I get a lot of inspiration from nature in florals and feathers, and adore making pretty mini hoop necklaces that feature flowers and other floral elements. Rockford has a big, orange, metal sculpture by Alexander Lieberman called Symbol, and I like to take pictures of it from different angles and embroider what I see. Sometimes I’m out at and about and inspiration strikes, like in the case of the wreath. I saw the blue grapevine wreath at Target and thought, “This needs an embroidery hoop in it!”
I have a tendency to use the same colors throughout my work. I am very drawn to robin’s egg blue and mint, in particular. Both colors make me so happy! I also like varying shades of blue, melon, green, pink, purple, grey, and yellow.
A fun question- What is your favorite food?
My absolute favorite food, something that I could eat every day, is the Caprese Salad. There’s nothing better than one with a great big heirloom tomato (mine are almost ripe!), organic basil that I grow myself, fresh mozzarella, fancy olive oil and balsamic vinegar (that my husband bought me for Mother’s Day), salt, and pepper. My favorite at home dessert is Talenti brand Mediterranean Mint gelato.
And lastly, where can we find you on the web? (links to your shop, blog, etc.)
ETSY SHOP: http://randomactsofamy.etsy.com
BLOG: Random Acts of Amy http://randomactsofamy.com
Every Friday on the Feeling Stitchy blog for Friday Instagram Finds http://www.feelingstitchy.com/search/label/Friday%20Instagram%20Finds
Thank you so much, Amy! I love your work!