Every few weeks we feature one of our members. We are proud to Feature: “Elephantdreams and radcliffedesignes, she is one of the many Etsy Artist that can support and fill two shops with the things she creates… so both are promoted here.
http://elephantdreams.etsy.com/ Tripping around the world with a camera and my feet
http://rhradcliffedesigns.etsy.com/ Art: Watercolors, Photographs, Jewelry and Prints
1-Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, and personal stuff).My name is Ruth Hill Radcliffe. I was born in Artesia, California back when it was orange groves instead of parking lots. My dad had just returned from the war and my mom was an English war bride. I drove my parents crazy because I cried all the time. When I was 4 my dad was recalled to serve in Korea. He never made it there but we did end up in Laredo, Texas for the first of many moves. Because we moved around so much I've had experiences that at times made me cringe, at others made me jump for joy. There were 2 moves that really made huge impressions on me....the first being sent to Caracas, Venezuela when I was 6. It was scary, exciting, and full of adventures. The second was being transferred to the Air Force Academy when I was a Jr. in high school. I think that move was probably the most profound because it sent my life in a totally new direction, meeting some really neat guys (and eventually my husband) and leading me to attend Colorado Womens College where I met some really neat gals who are still my dearest friends. Both the Academy and college were among the best memories of my young life.I now live in Houston, Texas. Texas seems to have been my home for the last 32 years...with the exception of a wonderful 4 year stay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I've been a photographer for the past 32 years, an artist for almost 50 and a wife for 37 and a mother for 33. Not all those things are in order. I've been active in arts associations and most notably the Watercolor Society here in Houston. I joined Etsy in September 2006, and must confess didn't have a clue as to what it was all about. It took almost 8 months to figure out you just don't build it and they will come. The experience, though, has spawned a climb up a learning curve of computer and internet life, one which challenges me every day.
2-What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?The first thing I really remember making by hand was this really wonderful collage in 2nd grade with fabrics and buttons and all sorts of really cool things. I remember it the most because I enjoyed it so much I decided to take some of the things home with me so I could make another one. I got busted and embarrassed but, I think I'd have done it again. It was just so much fun putting all those things on paper.
3-What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?Wow, what inspires me...that could take a book but to condense it a little, I would say that I am inspired by color, really bright, wonderful color. And then design and texture. You put those three things together and I get really itchy. I get my head wrapped around detail with color, designs and textures and I'm in heaven, whether it’s taking photos, painting, making jewelry or mosaics.
4-What are your favorite materials?Too many. I would have to list my camera first, but then paint and beads and fabrics and glass and.............oh my! The learning of a new technique with new mediums is just about the most exciting thing I can think of. 2 years ago I did the 1st of 3 large exterior mosaics. I didn't know anything about them when I started but the glass felt like magic in my hands. I have some raw silk that I'm dying to do something with.....is there a material I don't like.....well yeah, I have to say pastels, but only because I'm allergic to the chalk.
5-What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?There have been so many lessons, so many artists, so much help, and support and love. There are people who stop and go that extra distance to help, and mentor. Etsy is a community of artists that I truly value.....and consider being a part of this community a special artistic and spiritual experience. Friendship, support, humor, and belonging......all have been an important part of my life when I needed all of the above the most.
6-Why should people buy handmade?No question there.....handmade....what else is there? Well that question can be answered by sweatshops, cheap knock offs, lack of creativity, costly junk that has no soul. And sadly, the fact that so many people don't realize the beauty of handmade when they put a dollar amount ahead of quality and lovingly made art.
7-What new features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?To be honest, I don't really have an answer that really fits. I find the most frustrating part of Etsy is when certain artists and shops are mentioned and featured in some way again and again. With so many artists here there is a void the needs filling. I don't say any of that out of jealousy, but just wish that more could be spread out among the many.
8-Apart from creating things, what do you do?Well....at the moment what I do the most is trying to learn computer skills....creative as well as practical. I'm really working hard at learning to scan the many thousands of negatives and slides so I can use them in this digital age. It has been frustrating for me because over 25 years of work is film. And translating it into workable computer images....well drives me demented. But computer aside, I spend time with my husband and 2 beautiful greyhounds. I plan in my head my next trip to Asia. And I look at my garden with all its funk and know I should be out there weeding. So much more fun putting all sorts of collections out there.
9-Read any good books lately?Well, I used to be an avid reader, so much so I was always in trouble and far behind in what needed to be done. Lately I've sort of taken a holiday....but I love inspirational stories. My favorite secret pleasure though is reading a good mystery. So it sort of vacillates between Buddha and Elizabeth George. kind of a dichotomy that is.
10-In ten years I'd like to be…still challenged by life and art. I think I'd also like to be at peace, both in the world and with myself.
11-How did you pick your business name and your etsy avatar?well, my first shop was just an extension of what I had been doing for years.....rhradcliffedesigns is sort of boring, but it was a part of me for a long time. I had a hard time coming up with an avatar for that one, but I convinced my son to do a vector of me, and then I put wild colors in it. So it sort of fits, a crazy lady with bright pink background and big glasses.Elephantdreams evolved out of love. The title has a lot of meaning in so many parts of my life. A work in progress is "In Search of Elephants and Other Graces", a book I've been working on for years. The elephant has just been a big part of my imagination, and when I decided I needed a shop just for photography elephant dreams just kept rumbling around. As far as the avatar goes, it’s still a work in progress; I knew I wanted something in black and white. And I've had fun with a photo program on my computer....but as I said that part is a work in progress.
12- What is a Brat and how does that help you craft? A brat is someone who has been places that not many people have been, the journey sometimes alone, sometimes with many and sometimes just there. I really feel like every part of me has been shaped by that brattiness that is who we are.....the constant moving and learning and trying out new "selves". I also think it plays a huge role in the choices I make as to what I want to learn and experiment with next. Every new material is a journey and adventure. I sometimes get frustrated because there are so many things I want to do....I'll try anything once, usually more. I think I am fearless when it comes to experimenting.....many pieces which don't show up on Etsy. My craft is also my lifeline......it was especially that growing up, and now it’s a link to the future, and a grounding wire. "Oh the places you will go"