Wild Plum Mosaics
My husband and I took a trip to Italy a couple summers ago. Our stop in Venice was a highlight, stepping across bridges and winding our way through the maze-like city, and finding something new at every turn. Glimpses of everyday Venetian life grew the further we winded away from the train station.
One such glimpse was of laundry strewn from window to window, drying above the paths we followed below. I took many photos of the bright colors swaying in the breeze amongst the city's ancient buildings. This mundane household chore took on the form of a beautiful subject, something that local Etsy seller Megan Cain can relate to well.
Owner of Wild Plum Mosaics, Cain sells handmade mosaic art in various forms. Her laundry series took me back to the Venetian alleyways, highlighting how the mundane can also be an extraordinary piece of art. Other mosaics focus on such items as eggplant and peppers, reflecting Cain's love of gardening, nature, and Asian-inspired themes. Custom orders are also available, including the popular Address Tile
McCain features more of her work at the Flickr, and her creations can be seen in person at .
Cain answered a few questions over email about her work and art.
The Daily Page: When did you open your Etsy shop and what do you sell?
Cain: I opened my shop -- Wild Plum Mosaics -- in March 2008. I sell decorative and functional mosaic art -- address tiles, frames, switch plates, mosaic stained glass pieces and a popular laundry series that I created using paper and fabric under clear glass. What I sell changes periodically depending on what I am enjoying making at the time in my studio.
It is exciting to think about my mosaics living adventurous lives all around the world, many in places I've never been. So far I know there is one mosaic living in Australia and one in Ecuador, as well as in many states around the U'S.
Do you have a day job? Does your shop pay the rent?
I enjoy having more than one job in my life. I have always liked more variety than I can find in one job (so far!). I work at a restaurant a few nights a week and this summer I worked at a landscaping company a few days a week. I am a social and active person so after many solitary hours in my studio I enjoy going to the restaurant and giving my body some exercise and being around people.
I like the seasonal changes here in Wisconsin and how they affect the rhythm of my life. My studio is in the basement of my home so in the summer it is hard to spend long hours down there -- I want to be in my garden! But now, as winter arrives it is far easier to spend my time creating mosaics. It works out perfectly because by the spring I'll be ready to get back out there and start planting veggies.
My shop is only one aspect of my mosaics business. I personally haven't had the large number of sale that others have had on Etsy. Most of my sales are in person, and I create a lot of custom mosaics. I sell at craft shows, at Bohemian Bauble and Absolutely Art, and make sure I exhibit work in local shows with the Northside Artists Group. My shop doesn't pay all of the rent, but my mosaics business is growing and paying more and more of my expenses as time goes on.
What advice do you have for people interested in starting an online store?
I would definitely start with setting up a store on Etsy. It is very cost effective. It is cheap to list items and they don't charge a large percentage of the sale.
I recommend investing some money in hiring professionals to help with some aspects of the business. After sitting at a computer one night trying to figure out how to design a website I decided that I should be spending my time creating mosaics, not websites. So, I hired a graphic designer I found on Etsy to design a logo, business card and some things for my shop. And I hired a fellow Etsy seller to create my website. It is amazing the services people offer through Etsy!
I am continually learning how to take better pictures -- it's not easy and it's time consuming if you are always creating new items. I can't use the same pictures over and over because my mosaics change. But, the quality of photography on Etsy is very high, so I try to keep up as best I can.
It's easy to get obsessed with what other people are selling and how much they are selling. I have learned an important lesson in just creating what I think is engaging and enjoyable and not worry too much about what is going to sell. Relax and enjoy the ride because it's never dull and always full of plenty of lessons!
Etsy is an online marketplace whose mission is to "reconnect makers with buyers." These explorations will connect you with the makers in your neighborhood.