Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Living Colors: Estonian Intricacy

Welcome to the first installment of the Living Colors series! Today I'm featuring Epp Aareleid-Koop. Her name, Aareleid, means "treasure trove" in Estonian and I'm sure you'll agree her work is just that!
I think Epp and I first met via Holly Becker’s Haus Maus blog, where Epp noticed we both were living in central Germany and decided to leave a comment on my blog. When I clicked over to see who she was, I was really impressed with the work she was putting out on her own blog: gorgeous knits and intricately crocheted and beaded items! We’ve stayed in touch over time, and I’m thrilled to introduce her to you today!

Hi Epp! Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and what brought you to Germany.

First, Juliette, I would like to say that I’m truly honored that you have chosen to feature me and my work in your great blog. (Juliette's note: you're welcome - and thanks!)

I come from Estonia, a beautiful little seaside country in North-East Europe. I arrived in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in spring 2007 to take up a short-term assignment here at the European Central Bank. I was supposed to only stay for eleven months, but as it happened, shortly after my arrival in Frankfurt I met my future husband Björn here and… here I am today. Still an expat. A crafty one. :)


So you have a shop on Etsy. When did you decide to launch your shop, and what events sparked its creation?

I had been playing with the idea of having my own shop corner for some time, until this urge finally grew strong enough to actually do something about it. I think my main trigger was curiosity. I was just dying to know if there would be anyone out there to actually like my creations enough to actually purchase them. However, money as such has never been an important reason for me in this, and I believe it’s the right kind of attitude. As soon as you let it go, good things will start happening. At least, that’s my experience.

So, it was autumn 2008 when we finally opened our Etsy shop, and I wish I could say that it was an instant success. But it wasn’t. After warily listing the first items, nothing happened. For a long time. Until a guy from the States bought one of Björn’s posters. I think making the first sale is the hardest, especially on Etsy, where your sales and feedback is your most important business card. We are infinitely grateful to Devon – for having trusted the no-sale-no-feedback newcomers.


I used to live by the sea before moving to Germany and I just love how you have created the “Shades of Sea” line in your shop, KOOP de grace. Could you tell us more about it and if you have any other plans for more series?

Besides beautiful people around me, I have been always inspired by the countless miracles of nature. Morning dew on spider webs, hazy horizons and the silent dampness of deep forests, meadows covered in thick snow, to name just a few. I am inspired by the colors of the day: everything that stays between the pale purple of dawn and flaming red of sunsets, and even beyond that, up until nightly blues and pitch-dark black.


The sea in its various moods and shades is another great source of inspiration for me. I first came up with the idea of the Shades of Sea line, walking on a desolate beach near my family’s summerhouse on the beautiful island of Hiiumaa (Dagö). The sea has an inexplicable power over me. I miss it infinitely, living here in Frankfurt, an inland city, and it often occurs in my dreams.


I really love working in series. Like you once said yourself, it’s a good way to explore the idea and develop things through a single line. I also like the fact that it keeps the appearance of my shop from becoming too confusing. So, definitely, I would like to develop new series in the future. In fact, I’m already working on a new spring line. ;)

I noticed your husband has also contributed graphics and paintings to your shop; what’s it like being married to another artist? Do you critique each other’s work?

My husband Björn is a beautiful and talented person! Since the first day we met, he has been everything to me. I admire his creativity and devotion.

We try to support each other in our creative quests, but the fact is it’s often just restricted to kind words. My knowledge in car design is as modest as his knowledge in ‘feminine’ handicrafts, I’m afraid. On the other hand, I find it a good thing that we work in fields so distant from each other. It keeps us from competing with each other.

I know you also work as a translator; do you find your translating work to be a source of inspiration for your creative output, or is it pretty separate? How do you juggle translating on one side and crafting on the other – do you feel like two different people?

“Juggling” it the right word to use here! In fact, juggling is my main activity when it becomes to combining my two vocations, translating and crafting. Certainly, there are situations where I feel like two different people, or at least like a single person with a serious personality disorder, lol. However, at times like this I always try to remind myself that THIS is exactly where I like to be, and how I want to live my life. It is hard to keep things in balance from day to day, but it is also very rewarding. I’m sure you know it from your own experience too!

So I know I wouldn’t be happy just crafting or just translating. It’s the balance between these two that keeps me fulfilled. I have been lucky enough to have translated great works by great authors (Markus Zusak and Roald Dahl among the most recent ones), and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


How did you learn to knit and crochet (and do that crazy beadwork!)? Do you come from a creative family?

The rest of my family – my parents and my dear sister Kai – are also creative, but they have channeled their creativity into intellectual activities (scientific and fictional writing), rather than manual ones. So I’m the odd one out in this sense.

Looking back today, my maternal grandmother, Elisabeth, was a great influence, although I don’t remember ever crafting together with her. She made meticulous chic crochet cardigans, tank tops and clutches, some of which are among my dearest treasures today. I’m still using her No. 3 crochet hook with CZECHOSLOVAKIA written on the side. This is my lucky needle. Although she is long gone by now (and so is Czechoslovakia!), I remember her during every single one of my projects. I know she would me happy to see me carrying on her tradition. I hope she sees me from where she is now.

When I was a kid, boys and girls alike had to learn how to crochet in the crafting class already during their 3rd school year (though I wonder how many boys actually acquired this skill… for some reason, their homework projects were always incomparably more professional-looking than those of girls, lol). Knitting and sewing came somewhat later, already when boys and girls had separate crafting classes. It is interesting that I don’t remember any particular fascination with handicrafts during my school years. I guess it’s not half as fun when you HAVE to do something. I got seriously interested – and involved – sometime during my BA studies. I believe it was the overall creative atmosphere in the Estonian Academy of Arts that inspired me, although I studied a very theoretical subject, art history.


Is there a story behind your beaded necklaces/belts? I just think they are really cool looking! Are they pretty labor-intensive?

Thanks! No story behind them, I just love their versatility and unisex nature. True, they are pretty labor-intensive (mainly lots of patience threading the beads), but I love making them so much. Sadly, they do not seem to attract attention in my shop. I guess they make a stronger impact in real life than on the photos. When I wear my favorite rope necklace, the golden one, I get asked about it all the time.

Do you have any favorite tools or supplies that you use?

I try not to get attached to certain tools or materials, but yes, my late grandmother’s CZECHOSLOVAKIA crochet hook mentioned before is very dear to me. For this reason I use a size 3 a lot in my projects.

In materials, I love the versatility and trustworthiness of silk. I love the fact that you can more or less predict how it will act in your work.


What are your biggest challenges in creating?

My biggest challenge is overcoming my cowardice in crafting. I am a complete mouse when it comes to testing new materials, techniques and combinations! But I’m working on it. It was one of my resolutions for this year!

Any words of encouragement to budding creative types?

Just go for it. Seriously. Nothing happens when you are just sitting there, doing nothing. Just remember, it’s always better to try and fail than regret not trying at all. No risk, no champagne!


You can read more about Epp and her work over on her blog. Purchase some of her frothy creations for yourself in her Etsy shop.

Special thanks to Estonian photographers Maarit Jalakas for the snow dunes photo, Mikhel Ulman for the sunset photo, and Ly Tiido-Nurmetalo for the seaside photo. They make me want to visit Estonia!

What about YOU? Are you inspired by your surroundings? Has it had an impact on what or how you create?


LeelaBijou said...

what a beautiful feature! Her work is gorgeous :)

Paperfection said...

Thanks for a lovely interview!

Anonymous said...

A great feature, wonderful interview, and her work is just gorgeous!

Atelier Conti said...

Thank you for this lovely and inspiring interview. Beautiful work and a lot of fun to read.

Allison said...

Very well put together post. The shawls and scarves are so delicate and feminine... very beautiful. I'm excited to see what you will be doing next.

Andrea said...

julitte, great first installment! love the way you set the pictures up.

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

What a beautiful interview. I love those clutches and all of the bright colors. Good thoughts - esp that final note on no risk, no champagne. too cute!

Angel Ray said...

Congratulations - what a lovely piece!

Eva said...

Yay! for great interview - it's written beautifully and I hope it truly inspires many many people to start their own crafty venture :)
Thank you, Epp!

Kuutydruk said...

Wow! Nice to meet you! :) It was nice to read more about you. Love your knits and I wish you best of luck! :)

TheCluelessCrafter said...

Besides the beguiling gorgeousness of Epp's work, I am even more intrigued by her process: to work in a series, exploring the nature of the material and to develop ideas for it. I gather that's why Epp's creations have so much dimension! Fantastic kick off to your series, Juliette!

Royalpaca said...

Sehr shon :)
I love Epp's work
Great blogging too

one sydney road said...

Great interview Juliette...loved hearing about how she started. Always so inspiring to me! Her work is just lovely.

Traveling Mama said...

I LOVE this new series and cannot wait to see more! Epp is so amazing and just the right person to get us inspired!

X by Leina Neima said...

:=) I enjoyed every moment of eading this interview - thank you both for sharing :=)

likeschocolate said...

So lovely. Thanks for sharing!

Paulownia said...

Hi Epp...What a beautiful interview....Good luck with your shop and beautiful creations.....

lou said...

ok. i finally made it to read this post. didn't know we had such talents in our town :-) she does real nice things. envy!

Nauli said...

Great feature! KOOP de Grace makes so beautiful things!

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