Gracie is also involved with a few charitable organizations. One is the Washington Animal Rescue League and the other is Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Purchases of these related gift boxes will benefit these two organizations.
After you have read the interview, please browse through her shop. And, when you get there, remember that everything is handmade.
How did you get your start in the world of art?
Growing up I never felt that I had any artistic ability because I couldn't draw or paint, which is what we always learned to do in school. My brother was a wonderful painter and I always felt that compared to him, I had no talent. I really got started about 10 years ago or so when stamping began to get popular. It brought out the inner artist in me and I realized that I had a good eye for color and combinations, so I began trying all sorts of different crafts. I finally realized that what I really love is paper, because of all of the infinite combinations of color and texture and size. When I started making my boxes a few years ago, they really seemed to appeal to people and weren't something I was seeing anywhere else. So I stuck with it.
Do you have a ritual you perform before you start creating?
I usually just try to make sure that my work space is cleaned up and everything is within reach. I can be easily distracted, so I like to have things right where I need them. If I have to get up to get something on the other side of the room, I'm likely to think of something else to do before I get there.
What do you like best, the creative process or the final creation?
Both. I love being able to try new things and I love the process of sorting through all of my supplies looking for what's going to work. But there's nothing like holding that final creation in your hand and feeling that it came out just right.
What are your favorite art media, tools, and supplies?
Well, paper, of course, and ribbon. The supply I probably use the most of besides those is double-stick tape or photo dots. I go through a lot of double-stick tape. I have a special pair of scissors I use to cut it into smaller pieces. They get all sticky, so I can't use them for anything else.
When a creative block happens, what process do you go through to get the creative juices flowing again?
Sometimes I'll take a whole bunch of papers and embellishments and ribbon and just spread it all out on the floor and start matching different things together. If I'm really stuck, I look through magazines or wander through the supply store. I do look at other artists' work, but not the ones who make what I do. I like to look at jewelry, for example, to find interesting color combinations.
What do you hope your art says about you?
That I'm creative, with a sense of humor. That I believe in quality. That I love beauty. That's probably asking a lot from a paper box.
What is your greatest dream and greatest fear as an artist?
My greatest dream is that people will respond positively to what I do and see the same value in it...enough that it makes sense for me to keep creating it. My greatest fear would be the opposite. I would still keep creating, just probably not on the same scale.
What are your goals in art, and in life?
My goals in art are to continue to find new ways to express myself and ways to improve upon what I'm already doing. Of course finding a wider audience for my work would be nice. In life, it's to find enough of a balance so that my work and life and art all continue to be something I enjoy. If it ever stops being fun, if it ever stops being something that excites me...I'll stop.
Tell us a little bit about yourself—where you grew up, your life now, other creative pursuits, other interests and hobbies.
I was born in Afghanistan at the American embassy while my father was on a teaching program there. My parents are both from Indiana and I lived there when I was small. Then I lived in Egypt from the ages of 9 - 15. After that, we moved to Maryland and, other than 5 years in New York to study and pursue an acting career, I've been here ever since. I continue to act in small professional theaters and I have a full-time job with a company that provides internet technology consulting for large non-profit organizations. My other passion is for animals and the "no more homeless pets" movement. My husband and I have 4 cats and a rabbit.
Do you have more than one Etsy shop and/or other online shops?
Right now this is the only shop I have. I have to resist the urge to keep saying "oh, I could make THIS too!" and focus on one thing at a time for now. Who knows what the future will bring, though.