Hope Smitherman has always been excited by craft projects. She has memories of craft camps and supplies during her childhood years. Hope considers herself a jill-of-all-trades when it comes to creativity. She shares her craft journey, years as a blogger, how she incorporated crafts into her love for nature, and her experience of transitioning from a crafter to a craft business owner.
Childhood Craft Memories
Craft projects have always excited me. The thrill of playing with pipe cleaners, clay, and construction paper started during my preschool years. In addition, I was a fan of coloring books and crayons for a long time. As a Girl Scout, the craft activities and making things captured my interest. I made friendship bracelets in middle school.
Crafting in My Career…
Even in my jobs, I always found myself incorporating arts and crafts in some type of way. While being a supervisor at a residential facility for developmentally disabled kids, I often planned craft activities for them. During a short stint working in the Outreach department for the local Girl Scout Council, I heavily promoted craft projects for my sessions. Later on, I was employed at a web-design company; I almost always had a bag of mixed media supplies to create during breaks and downtime.
Craft Experience in Early Adult Years….
I was very much into Decoupage as a craft. It was a relatively inexpensive hobby back when we didn’t have much money to spend on hobbies. All I needed was magazines, glue, and something to cover in images. I gave out tons of decoupage jewelry boxes as gifts to my family that Christmas.
Plus, I dabbled in art journaling and other mixed media. Then I fell in love with a new craft – jewelry making. A co-worker showed me a necklace she made, and my love of beads and jewelry-making was born!
It’s been my main craft for over 20 years now.
The Blogging Days
While working at a web design company, I learned about blogs. I followed craft bloggers like Jennifer Perkins of The Naughty Secretary Club and Cathy Murillo, The Crafty Chica, to name a few. I started a blog about my personal journey and craft projects shortly after. I made a lot of connections through the blogging community.
Like blogging, taking on challenges has a bit of a community feel to me. While it’s online, you get the opportunity to make connections with people that have similar interests who are also participating. I’ve done photo challenges, jewelry challenges, and mixed media art challenges. For me, I think there’s something to be said for the limits of taking on a challenge. I have a crowded craft room and sometimes don’t know where to begin to find inspiration. Challenges help offer that inspiration and focus. Plus, being on a deadline gives me the kick to just make something!
One of the challenges I’ve been doing for five years is the #100DayProject. I love participating in this challenge because it pushes me to be creative each day.
The #Make100Earrings challenge was a fun one. I made a pair of earrings each day.
This year I did #100DaysofMakingJewelry and pushed myself to do something, anything jewelry-making-related, each day. I didn’t have to have a finished project but needed to work toward making a jewelry piece.
Crafts In Nature
Some natural elements make their way into my crafts, and some of my arts make their way into nature!
The primary example is my photography. I’m a sucker for finding bits of natural beauty to shoot and share, mainly on Instagram. I also collect some of the beauty I see and try to incorporate it in other ways. Most recently, I’ve encased skeleton leaves and dandelion fluff in resin for some of my jewelry. I’ve also collected shells and driftwood to use in some pieces.
I have collected bits of leaves and flowers for art journaling and other mixed media to create an eco-dye on papers and fabrics. I’ve glued leaves into an art journal page or two. And I often used dried flowers, acorn caps, and leaves as props in my product photography.
I admit that I don’t often use nature as my specific inspiration but rather as a source of calm. More than anything, being outside and communing with nature seems to restore my soul and help me center myself so I can create more.
From Craft Hobbyist to Craft Seller
It started in 2010. I left my job at the web-design company and was anxious to start selling handmade jewelry. Etsy was the obvious choice. It’s a known platform for selling handmade goods online. I’m still a tiny fish in the massive ocean when it comes to selling on Etsy. It has given me a place to direct people to find my stuff. However, I plan to build my own website that will include my blogs and handmade goods.
Biggest Lesson In Business
As I said, Etsy is tremendous. It’s definitely tough to get found there. I use social media for my business, selling to people who either know me or follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I’ve found that it’s so important to make connections with people. You should use those platforms to have conversations and build a community instead of just promoting.
My approach to social media is a work in progress every day.
Connect With Hope on Social Media
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CraftyHopeJewelry/