Feature!! Gini's Boutique and Dorset Buttons

A few weeks ago, I joined an Etsy team that was for people who love Swarovski crystals. On this team's discussion board, I met Gini (Louise Armitage) the talented artist behind GinisBoutique. After taking a look around her shop I decided I had to tell you guys about her! She is so cool and an awesome crafter!! She agreed to do an interview with me for my blog! I am so excited to share this with you!!!

E: Your Etsy profile says you have been making crafts for all of your life, why do you think you got started and what was your first craft?
So Pretty!
G: I would say that art and craft are in my blood. Both my father and mother were artists so I had access to all kinds of art supplies from a very young age. I was encouraged and shown all sorts of methods and skills. I’ve always had the urge to make things and I can’t imagine life any other way. I’m not sure what my first craft was as I was probably so young when I started but I do remember my neighbor teaching me lace making when I was only 5, and her husband taught me woodworking making the bobbins for this too.

E: What are “Dorset Buttons?”

G: Dorset buttons are the original way that a button was made before plastic buttons were invented and made by machine. It’s an old English skill of weaving thread onto a ring of wood, metal or even bone in the past. Now a days plastic or brass curtain rings are used with crochet threads. I’ve taken this skill and practise it for over 6 years and then developed it into my own unique way of making designs and patterns. I’ve given them a facelift and made them into necklaces, brooches, bag charms etc. Its my favourite craft, I’m completely addicted to making them. I always have one in my pocket wherever I go, I never seem to stop creating and they’re such a portable craft. There's a little photo story on my facebook fan page of how I made a 10 button Dorset necklace from conception to completion including tips for Etsy sellers at www.facebook.com/GinisBoutique.

E: How does your creative process work and where do you find inspiration?

A half finished button.
All done and ready to wear!
G: Well I have a little thing that I do myself for finding inspiration. Any time I have an idea I’ll sketch it down and pop it in folders and scrapbooks I have stored back at home in my studio and then I have a constant source of ideas to go back to, I never hit a block then. Anything in life can get ideas going in my head, my problem is that I have too many ideas and not enough time! I also like to keep pictures of other artists work, scraps of interesting paper, material, beads, threads etc to inspire me too. And having a huge variety of crafting supplies helps also, just having a browse through them can give me lots of ideas.

E: Most of my readers are from the US, could you tell us a little bit about being a crafter in England?

Isn't this great?!
G: I would say the crafts can be quite similar between the US and UK, I think being brought together by Etsy they have been able to inspire each other. A big difference is that there’s a much bigger market in the US, so thank goodness for Etsy! Most of my customers are outside the UK so I think I would struggle to make a go of selling crafts if I was just limited to UK customers. We have such a recession going on in the UK that prices can be a problem here too. For example I’m doing a Christmas craft fair stall and I know that I will have to have much lower prices than I sell on Etsy because otherwise I won’t sell anything. It’s a shame really because all your hard work can become undervalued.

 E: What are your favorite supplies to work with and where do you like to get them?

So cute!
G: I love working with felt, it’s so versatile. I tend to get this from local craft shops in small amounts. I like to try to give as much business to small family shops rather than big outlets if possible. Ebay can be a good source for beading and crystal supplies but you have to be careful of quality and possible fakes. And crochet threads and beads I just adore searching round charity shops (I think you call then thrift shops in the US). It’s like Christmas when I find a great vintage button or an half used ball of thread in a discontinued colour. I’m easy to please!

E: What is your all-time favorite piece of jewelry and why?

G: I have to say it would be the Dorset button necklace in English country cottage garden colours. I loved the final result of this necklace, it was so pretty and feminine. I was secretly hoping that no one would buy it so I could keep it for myself but it got snapped up really quickly. I keep promising to make myself another one but I never seem to have the free time, I’m always too busy making things for my shop and customers.

I can see why this is her favorite!!