Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! My name is Liz Dickey. I’m currently living in Portland, Oregon, where the forests are lush, people everywhere are riding bikes, and the D-I-Y spirit is very much alive. I live with my boyfriend who is always there to answer my bike-specific questions and can somehow make even the greasiest chain rings sparkle. This summer we’re moving to Oakland, CA.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I am a teacher. My teaching practice is inspired from the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where among other things, the arts are ever present. I love the design aspect of creating spaces for children and of documenting their work. I have primarily worked with children ages 18 months – 6 years and am currently teaching in the graduate school of education at Portland State University. One course I especially enjoy teaching focuses on ways to introduce various art materials to children and integrate the arts into the curriculum. When I’m not immersed in any of the above, I love to spend time outdoors. I love to hike, ski, travel, and practice yoga, which I find helps keep me balanced and flexible in all aspects of life.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I grew up in a large family just north of New York City, in a small town rich in the arts. Growing up we always had access to crayons and endless stacks of old computer paper- you know, the kind with perforated edges. All four of my siblings are artists and it wasn’t until I had my own classroom that I realized I was an artist too. I would use a lot of recycled materials in the classroom from SCRAP, a local non-profit that collects materials otherwise thrown away and sells them to the public. A few years ago I had an idea for reusing bobby pins leftover from my brother’s wedding (45 of them from my hair alone!) and on a whim submitted my idea for SCRAP’s annual holiday bazaar. I was accepted, hairclips were later replaced with clocks, and the rest is history. I can’t help but wonder if I would be here on Etsy sharing my work if I didn’t take that risk…
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
There is always an element of surprise in my work. All of the bike parts I use are worn-out and come to me full of grease and grime. It isn’t until they’re thoroughly cleaned that their best qualities are revealed and I know exactly what I’m working with. Sometimes I come across chain rings I’ve never seen before and that’s always exciting. I use reclaimed textiles for each clock background, most of which are discarded fabric scraps not much larger than the chain ring itself. I love the process of combining different colors, textures, and designs with the industrial shape of chain rings. I see potential clock backgrounds everywhere. I fear one day my friends will all wake up to find 8-inch circles missing from their favorite tee shirts.
In many ways, my work with recycled bicycle parts relates to my work with children. Children see possibility in all materials and the more time we spend with them, the more we too begin to see the extraordinary that exists in the ordinary. The French artist Jean Dubuffet sums it up when he says, “True art is always there where you least expect it, where no one thinks about it or utters its name.”
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Photographs. My younger brother is a photographer and two of his I especially love include one taken in Central Park and another on Alberta Street in Portland. He uses a medium format Polaroid camera and there’s something I love about how a polaroid looks aged even though it was just taken.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
The Future is a Lovely Day (A Reggio Children Publication)
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
Six Feet Under HBO series
Medeski Martin & Wood
In the Loop (My brother’s solo project!)
Local weather (always on the look out for those pacific nw sunbreaks!)
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Create something that you love and that captures your own style. Take full advantage of the resources around you. Connect with other artists locally. Use natural light when taking photographs. You never know who might be paying attention to your shop… so dress your best.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love the eye-candy of looking at Treasuries, Gift Guides, and the rotating front page. There are so many amazing items out there that I often don’t notice until placed next to something else. I also really enjoy reading The Storque and am always inspired by the stories of other artists.
I would love to one day be able to reorganize the items in my shop without relisting and have a way to organize favorites.
How do you promote your work?
So far it has mostly been word of mouth. I participate in local craft shows and some bike-related events (of which Portland has many!) I am a member of Trillium Artisans, a local non-profit that supports artists who use recycled materials in their work. Through Trillium I have been connected with some great local opportunities and have met some amazing artists. My experience on Etsy has been awesome and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share my work in this public space.
In ten years I’d like to be…
sharing an even bigger story.