Breakfast with Cristi
A couple of weeks ago, I was perusing our little Facebook group and checking out the links of members who I’m unfamiliar with, when I came across Cristi Clothier‘s 2 If By Sea Etsy shop. I immediately fixated on a spectacular bracelet entitled “Spring Flowers” (below, left). Despite the fact that I’d recently initiated a few budgetary measures, I simply HAD TO HAVE THAT BRACELET. So I ordered it. It’s fabulous. Sometimes you come across something material that speaks to you; something that brings you pleasure just sitting on your bureau. So it is with my new bracelet. I love it. Something magical and brilliant went into its creation. Meet the talented artist: Cristi Clothier — mother, jewelry designer, and blogger.
CC: Please give us an intro to who you are, what you do, and your family headcount.
Cristi: Hi! My name is Cristi Clothier. I’m a married, 41-year-old stay-at-home mom of two boys, ages 3 1/2 and 1 year. I’ve been a graphic designer for 20 years. My husband and I decided that with our first child we would make a way for me to be a SAHM for as long as financially possible. So, here I am almost 4 years later.
CC: Tell us about your jewelry design, your Etsy shop, and other creative endeavors.
Cristi: About 12 years ago I stumbled across a bead shop here in town. I decided to go in and look around. The lady who owned the shop was so nice and helpful that I decided to try my hand at making jewelry. Well, much to my husband and bank account’s dismay, that was the beginning of my bead addiction. I’ve sold my work on a regular basis to co-workers over the years. Since becoming a SAHM that avenue for sales dwindled leaving me with no way to sell. I heard about Etsy from my aunt and I immediately signed up for an account. My sales have been minimal, but what keeps me there is the sense of community that it offers. In addition to my jewelry, I also quilt and do collage. I’ve been sewing since I was a child. My mother-in-law got me started with quilting.
CC: What prompted you to start a blog? What keeps you going?
Cristi: Actually, reading the blog of a friend of mine and fellow jewelry designer, Kelly Warren, was what prompted me to start a blog. I thought it would be an easy and free way to promote my work and my Etsy shop. There again, as with Etsy, my blog has opened up a whole new world of online friends. It has driven traffic to my store and increased my sales in the last few months. Fellow artists’ comments left on my blog daily are what keep me going. It’s so nice to know that there are people out there in “cyberspace” who don’t “know” you, but are willing to support you with their kinds words and feedback.
CC: What goals do you have for your creative pursuits? What do you most hope to accomplish?
Cristi: My goals this year for my work are to “find my own voice” and also to start submitting my work to various beading publications. I’ve been struggling with defining my “style” for the past few years. I have a really strong desire to come up with something, maybe a technique or embellishment that makes my designs truly identifiable as mine. I most hope to accomplish authenticity this year, not only in my creative life but also within myself.
CC: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
Cristi: I’m ashamed to say this but motherhood has made me remorseful in some ways about my creativity. Now that I’m a mom I find myself feeling a lot of regret that I didn’t use my time before children more wisely. I struggle with this quite a bit. I’m now learning from these feelings that this will only impede any progress I may or may not make. So I’m learning to live in the moment and be as grateful and productive as I can with the time I have to work with.
CC: Where do you do your creative work?
Cristi: A small corner of my bedroom is where my bead tables are setup. I have a nice window for daylight and work there while my 1-year-old naps during the day. My cutting table and sewing machine are in our dining room, which we use as a computer/craft room. I hope to someday have a nice 12′ x 12′ studio separate from our house where Mommy can go to escape, lol.
CC: Do you have a schedule for your creative work? How do you make it a priority?
Cristi: With my boys being as young as they are there is little or no way to schedule time for creativity. My only avenues for time are to take advantage while they nap, beg my husband for an hour here or there on the weekends, or send them to Grandma’s for a few days, lol. I try and create after they’ve gone to bed, but some days by that time I am worn out and just want to go to sleep.
CC: Is there something you do or don’t do in order to make housework and domestic life less time consuming, so that you have more time for creativity?
Cristi: Not really. I get up every morning and formulate a to-do list in my head of what needs to be done that day and if something doesn’t get done because I’ve decided to sneak off to bead or sew, then so be it. Housework can wait until I’m done. [Click on any image for a larger view — especially if you can’t read the note written on the photo above!]
CC: What do you struggle with most?
Cristi: Again, finding my own style is my best answer to this. Along with that I’d have to say the time issue is my second greatest struggle.
CC: Where do you find inspiration?
Cristi: Everywhere really. Blogs of other artists, Etsy, books and local art galleries and boutiques. Just the other day I was leafing through a women’s magazine and saw a trio of eyeshadow colors. I immediately tore out the page and put it up on my inspiration board. I thought to myself, “This would be a great color combo for jewelry.” Later on I decided to pull some beads in those colors and it ended up looking great. Never underestimate inspiration, it can be found in the smallest of things.
CC: What are your top 5 favorite blogs?
- Art du Jour by Martha Lever
- Elvie Studio by Lori Vliegen
- Distracted by Design by Carmen Torbus
- Humblebeads Blog by Heather Powers
- Creative Construction [Aw!]
CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
Cristi: Right now, I’d have to say it’s the little increments of time that I take to either sit down and sew or bead. With my boys relying on me as much as they do right now, taking “me time” truly is an indulgence.
CC: What are you reading right now?
Cristi: I am reading two books right now. The first is I Dare You: Embrace Life with Passion by Joyce Meyer. The other is Taking Flight: Inspiration and Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings by Kelly Rae Roberts.
CC: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
Cristi: Be patient and know that the time will come to you to be creative. It may be a half hour a day here and there or your husband may offer to watch the kids all day (I know that’s a bit of a stretch, lol) so you can create. Either way, learn quickly to be grateful for any amount of time you get and if you have small children like me, realize that they will be grown and self-sufficient before you know it. It’s then that the universe will reward all creative moms with ample time to do whatever our hearts desire.
CC: Lovely. Thank you so much, Cristi!
beautiful jewelry and very nice interview! christi, you seem to have a good sense that if imbalance happens, you can brush it off, no problem. i’m getting there!
Miranda, thank you so much for inviting me for this interview. I am so excited and honored to be included here.
Cathy, I try! Someday’s it’s not so easy and selfishness creeps in and reminds me that I didn’t get to bead or sew on a particular day. So I’m learning to remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and maybe the “time gods” will work in my favor.
Lovely interview. Inspiring even for those of us with children that have left the nest.
hey, i know you!!! what a nice surprise to see you profiled here, cristi! 🙂
What a great interview, Cristi! It was fun getting to know you a little more. It’s always nice to see the face of someone you communicate with. Your creations are really wonderful. I hope you continue to find the time to pursue your dreams.
What a great interview. It’s so nice to learn a little bit more about you Cristi! You just made my day when I saw you listed my blog as a favorite! Thank you.
Fantastic interview — and beautiful jewelry, too! Really appreciated your insights, Cristi. And I 100% sympathize with what you said about motherhood making you remorseful about your creativity. I struggle with that a lot. A LOT. Long story short: while we were trying to get pregnant — a process full of heartache that took years, and eventually infertility treatments — I ended up having the luxury of working full time on my writing. I wanted so badly to become a mother, that I didn’t fully take advantage of that time. Really regret it now.
Have you sent that picture of your neat and functional office to LifeHacker.com? Looks very well organized. I think they would like it.
I totally know the feeling of, “I thought I didn’t have time to be creative THEN…!” I think that’s one of the gifts of motherhood. It forces you to wake up in the morning and realize “free time” when you suddenly find yourself having some.
Beautiful jewelry, BTW!
Hi Kelly, Leann, Doreen, Liz, Jen and Carmen and GregP!
Thanks so much to everyone for taking time out your busy day to read my interview. I appreciate all your kind words!
Jen – It’s nice to know I’m not the only Mom out there who feels that “regretful” feeling. After 3 years of feeling that way I think I may have finally learned that you can’t live in regret. It only keeps you grounded in that moment and doesn’t allow you to move forward.
Carmen – I enjoy your work immensely and I love the “new direction” it’s going in!