We're back with another handmade holiday interview — this time with Dani Ausen, artist behind the lovely peacock-feather accessories and jewelry you've seen at Market Day.
Hey Dani! So as a maker, I assume you got into gifting handmade at an early age. What were some of your favorite handmade gifts to make when you were younger? What were the winners with your family and friends?
I was always making something as a kid, and Christmas was one of my favorite times for making. I've always been a big gift-giver. I like giving people gifts as much or more as I like receiving gifts. There are two things that I remember making the most. The first was earrings — I would make all of my female friends earrings out of whatever I could find that was fun or festive. One year I used miniature Christmas ornaments, and another year I did colorful mylar Christmas bows. The second gift I made a lot was painted objects. When I was in high school, I would buy wooden boxes and paint them with different designs, based on my friends' personalities. I'd fill them with candy or small gifts. A friend I'm still close with still has one of them.
That box is awesome! Do you stiill give handmade for the holidays? What's your favorite gift to make now?
I try not to explicitly give out my products as gifts, but if I have an idea that would really work for one of my friends, or a product that really speaks to their personalities, I'll make something for a gift. I also like to make things that can be eaten or used practically. I made a lot of jars of pickled green beans one year and brought them to parties with Bloody Mary mix.
Yummm ... How many degrees of gifts do you make? Like, do you have one tier for acquaintances, one for friends, one for family? Does it depend?
More involved and personalized crafts are reseved for family and close friends. Edible goodies I'll take to all of the above: friends, families, acquaintances, parties. Every year I also love to bake and package molasses cookies for my coworkers — they wait for them every year! I love to try to beautifully package them, so I'm always flipping through Martha Stewart for ideas.
So what does your gift season usually look like? When do you start prepping?
Sometimes it's pretty last minute! I tend to forget about Christmas until December 1st, and then scramble. Show season makes it pretty hectic!
SO TRUE. So what's the coolest thing about giving handmade, in your opinion?
Starting last year, I moved to buying all of my gifts either locally or from independent online sellers, through Etsy, Big Cartel and Goodsmiths. I make what I don't buy. It's actually really rewarding — I always find really fun and interesting products when I shop that way, and I feel like it makes my gifts a lot more personal. You really have to think of who you're buying for and then match them to a gift idea or a maker. I also love to support local ... I get so much love from Christmas shoppers every year, I like that I'm giving it back now! :)
Thanks for sharing, Dani!
There'll be more interviews with Market Day peeps coming soon. Stay tuned!