Saturday, August 20, 2011

Craftaluma Vendor: Bird vs. Bird

e are happy to welcome back yet another Veteran Craftaluma vendor, Bess Petty of Bird vs. Bird Design. Be it luck, good karma, or good ol' fashioned elbow grease, we seem to get the cream of the crop with not only talent but genuinely nice gals you'd wanna hang with. Bess Petty is one of those gals. She is a fellow graphic designer, and nature lover. The first time I saw her work a few years back at our first juried Craftaluma show, I knew immediately she was a graphic designer. The giveaway, her clean, vivid use of color and graphics relating to furry friends and wooded wonderland was after my own heart. Bess finds comfort and beauty that can only be found in nature and translates that into a bold, modern design that is sophisticated and a bit urban. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to snap up one of her totes with the faux bois pattern and a nice squirrel, barn owl or chipmunk. And if you travel light, be sure to check out her matching wallets. Oh, and being a nature lover, dig this, Bess uses recycled scraps of vinyl from banners, magnetic sheeting and the like from job at the sign shop to make her beaver and kestrel coin purses so it doesn't get in the landfill or waste water. Yep, she's talented and green. That's BA NA NAS as Rachel Zoe might say. Or as Bess might say it's just plain Coo Coo common sense! Yes. Thrift, waste not, want not and pushing the envelope beyond what seems possible is what makes Bess a true crafter's crafter. We like her bunches.

So why bird vs. bird you may ask? We're so glad you did... please read on. Then, come on down to the Petaluma Art Center and meet Bess and and her crafty critters.

Petaluma Craft Mafia interviews:
Bess Petty of Bird vs. Bird

Name of business and how you got your name:
Bird vs. Bird Designs The name (and logo) come from a photo in an old Time-Life book about birds that shows a sparrow fighting itself in a mirror.

Where are you from?
Raised in Davis, CA, currently in Oakland, CA.

How long have you lived there?
I've lived in Oakland since 2000something, and in my current neighborhood since 2004.

How did you get started in your particular craft?
My day job is as a graphic designer at a sign shop. The sign industry generates lots of scrap and waste materials like banner, vinyl, and magnet. I started making Bird vs. Bird products as a way to divert some of that stuff from the waste stream.

Where do you get your ideas?
Looking through my many bird books, checking out the wildlife at nearby Lake Merritt, and fiddling around with bits of materials to come up with new products.

Do you have a favorite bird?
I can't say that I have a favorite bird, but if I WAS a bird, I'd want to be a barn swallow--cool colors, amazing flying skillz, awesome mud nests.

Your favorite handbag or project you've created and why?
I made purse featuring a custom portrait of my friend's hen, Ximena. She's a really cool-looking chicken, and I've known her since she was a little baby chick.

Where would you like to be with your business in 5 years?
Umm...I'd like to have a wider range of products and be set up to do more custom work.

Favorite spice in your cupboard:

Now that is a great spice! Chosen music to craft to:
The sweet sounds of weekend public radio. I can recite the KQED Sunday lineup from memory.

How do you start your day?
I arise fairly early since I start my job at 8am. Fortunately I only have 10 minute bike commute. Depending on the day I go to the gym before work or have some coffee and read the newspaper.

How does your crafty self reconcile with the bottom line business side:
I'm thrifty and organized by nature, so the business side of things has come fairly easily. Excel is my friend.

How do you unwind at the end of a stressful week?
Lying on the couch with a book, cooking an extra tasty meal, going for an evening stroll around my neighborhood.

Best thing about living in Oakland :
The best thing about my neighborhood of Oakland (Grand Lake) is that everything is within walking distance: coffee, groceries, farmers market, bakery, hardware store, restaurants, post office, lake, and that there really is a neighborhood feel.

Favorite book and why?
Charlie Harper's "Birds and Words". His artwork is so uniquely and charmingly captures the birds he observed.

Other crafts you would like to explore:
So many! I'd like to become more skilled at sewing apparel and learn how to knit.

How has the craft boom influenced your own craft?
I stumbled onto the Etsy train a just the right time (late 2008) when it was getting popular but before it became so extremely crowded. My early success there made me take crafting seriously and develop it into a real side business.

Your favorite comfort meal is:

What's in your handbag?
Nothing very fun--chapstick, wallet, sunglasses and many shopping and to-do lists on little pieces of scrap paper.

Who and what inspires and influences you?
The crafty friends I've made over the past few years. It's great to have people to bounce ideas off of, share tools, discuss strategies, etc.

What is always in your fridge?
Maple syrup. You never know when the pancake mood might strike.

I'm inspired by:
All the awesome things I see people making. Not in the sense of wanting to make the same things, but in the sense of being reminded how many different things can be made by hand with so many different materials.

What still holds wonder for you in this world?

I couldn't go a day without:
Eating at least one piece of fruit.

What really ticks you off?
Laziness really ticks me off

I dream of traveling to:
Cities and back roads all over the US

George, John, Paul or Ringo? Or Elvis...
I've always been fond of Paul circa A Hard Day's Night (which I own on VHS)

What empowers you?
Knowing that I can make things from start to finish--concept, design, prototype, finished product, packaging.

What advice would you give to crafters wanting to get into supporting themselves through their craft?
Well, I don't support myself, but I think I run my business in a relatively sensible manner. Make some kind of spreadsheet to track every expenditure and sale. Don't buy anything (office supplies, tools, materials, displays) impulsively. See what you can repurpose or recycle for free.

What do you love?
I really love finding free stuff on the sidewalk.

Name a movie or poem or song that particularly moves you and why:
For some reason I could watch The Big Chill over and over again. I couldn't tell you why.

What puts that special hop in your giddy-up?
My darlin' husband Matt. No bad day can be that bad with him around.

Any Pets?
One fluffy orange cat--Tucker. He's an excellent ball fetcher and professional late night bed pouncer.

Tucker sounds like a real lover! Thank you Bess, you are the sweetest and I'm so happy to have you join us at Craftaluma again this year.

For more goodness from Bird versus Bird lookie here
(Photos courtesty of Bess Petty © Copyright Bird vs. Bird Design.)

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