Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Atelier Choklit: Adornments for Tarts

Name: Choklit Chanteuse
Shop Name: Atelier Choklit: Adornments for Tarts
Shop Link:
Location: Sonoma County, CA
Ships To: Anywhere at all!

What inspires you?

Oh, so many lovely things! I'm absolutely inspired by the textures and colors and quality of my materials - sometimes I wonder if I didn't start all this just so I could buy excessive amounts of luxurious ribbons and shiny things.

I'm inspired by my dearest friends and family, the people I love who surround me, many of whom are just as shameless about their appreciation for ridiculously fine costuming as I am, and who endlessly inspire me to new heights of beauty in the things I make by being so inventive, gorgeous, and stunningly creative themselves.

I also sing in a rock band, so I'm inspired by constantly coming up with new things to wear on-stage as a tribal neo-Victorian quirky rock diva.

I'm inspired by soiled doves and seductive mermaids, sideshow freaks and street thieves, by secretive alchemists and elegant dandies, by traveling minstrels and ladies of ill repute, by gypsy puppeteers and mad poets, burlesque dancers and absinthe drinkers and airship pirates and workshop tinkerers.

How long have you had your shop on Etsy?

I joined Etsy as a buyer in 2006, but listed my first item for sale in May of this year, 2008. Not long!

Is this a job for you or a hobby?

I have a full-time day job, so it's definitely not a job, but it's more than a hobby. I'm one of those crafters who is driven to squeeze in my sewing and beading late at night after the days' work and band practice is done. It's something of a constant juggling act. How I long for a 24-hour craft store to fill my midnight crafting needs!! And just one more free day in each week, please?

How did you get into your craft?

I've been a maker of things for as long as I can remember. As I child I spent countless hours painstakingly hand-sewing miniature Victorian ball-gowns for my dollhouse dolls and making up inappropriate risqué stories about them, which I found far more satisfying than playing house with those same dolls. By the age of twelve I had discovered beads and was selling beaded jewelry at local crafts fairs. I've always loved to do tiny and detailed work with my hands, and I love especially to make things out of beautiful materials. For many years I sewed and beaded only for myself and for friends, and it wasn't until about eight months ago that the current manifestation of my craftiness came about.

For years I had been making Victorian and Edwardian - inspired costumes for myself, and people kept telling me I should sell them. But I knew there was no way that I could make that sustainable on top of a full-time job, and that the amount of time I put into making each costume rendered them virtually impossible to do for someone else without charging an unmentionable sum. I had rather recently discovered and fallen in love with the Etsy community and was overtaken by a desire to be more than a consumer in it. So I started thinking about what small piece of my aesthetic, and my love of neo-Victorian costuming, I could re-create and share with others on Etsy... and the idea for the adornments was born. Once I realized that I could justify collecting more and more pretty ribbons and jewels and feathers if I kept making things for the shop, I was hooked.

Do you have any advice for fellow Etsy shop owners?

Take really beautiful pictures. That's what draws me to a shop more than any other single thing. On the level playing field of the Etsy interface, really stunning photos will make me look twice. And definitely get involved in the Etsy community, that's the most rewarding part! The more active you are, the more exposure your shop gets, so get out there and make some great connections.

What do you love about Steampunk?

I love the hybrid nature and cultural fusion of the Steampunk aesthetic, which allows for all sorts of delightful freedoms when creating costumes, environments, and stories - there's magic in that melding of the historic and the futuristic.

I've always been an inhabitant of the places where the sub-cultures intersect - a boundary dweller, one might say. I love taking pieces of vintage circus and vaudeville couture, the style of Burning Man, tribal cultures, Gothic Lolita and neo-Victorian fashion, and mashing them all up into one un-classifiable freaky aesthetic. So Steampunk was a natural fit when I realized it was all about re-imagining the refined but somewhat restrictive style of the Victorian age, which I've always loved - but through the lens of technology and modern progressive thinking, with a dash of adventure.

I also adore the Steampunk movement's appreciation for hand-crafted things, the challenge to mass-produced and homogenized culture, the individuality that comes out when people strive to make truly original artwork and designs. I love to see what is born of that passion for making things by hand.

Oh yes, and corsets and goggles. I can't get enough of either - and when worn in combination... *sigh*.

Anything else you would like to add?
I'm quite honored to be part of such an active and madly talented team as the Steam Team, and I'm so grateful for all of the connections and new friendships with like-minded souls that being part of the team has afforded me. Thanks so much!


TotusMel said...

What a wonderful piece. I do so envy the Neo-Victorian rock diva!

Sarah Dungan said...

The Seamstress, neo-victorian rock diva! <3

Hyla Waldron said...

Love Choklit's art!


ArtSnark said...

Great piece & love your shop

Holly said...

Hooray! I love the interview and the pictures...I agree, awesome pictures are super important! This is Orpheus Alchemy, I made a blog! weee! haha

Winona Cookie said...

Choklit is simply fascinating to get to know and I'm so very glad I've a had chance to get to! Great to hear the story behind the beautiful work.