Artists ~ Lina Clark ~ Saunderstown

Artist’s name: Lina Clark
Shop name: SeaShards

1. Tell us about your work
A lot of what I do comes from a place of love for nature and all the curious things that it produces. I've always had an affinity for collecting things from outside. To me, having the chance to do something like hold a bird's feather is akin to touching and experiencing the animal's presence. A similar sentiment goes along with items and even broken pieces of old artifacts - by touching something from the past you can reach back in time and feel a little of what those days were like. I've carried this mentality over to what I provide in my shop.

Much of what I carry includes animal parts, plants, and antique items in wearable forms. I mostly fashion them into pendants as I find them to be easiest to wear and accessorize with. This allows the possessor of these items to access them wherever they go and always have that special thing close at hand to touch, look at, and connect with. The pieces I get for my products come from a variety of places: friends, antique shops, farms, gardens, and findings in the wild.

2. Is there a story behind the name of your business?
When I first opened my shop, most of my products were wire wrapped beach findings. Sea glass, sea shells, and sea shards. 'Sea shards' is what my grandmother always called the shards of broken china we would find on the beach near her home in Warwick. Much of the shard jewelry I made and sold was made from the very same shards we would find together. Many of them were over a hundred years old, broken by the hurricanes that ravaged the Rhode Island coastal homes over the years. I was always enchanted by their designs, hallmarks, and history, so I wanted to honor that in my shop name.

3. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer?
I had always loved making jewelry as a hobby, and after my senior year of high school I had a lot of time on my hands. That meant a lot of items were getting made, but I didn't have anything to do with them. I'd been shopping on Etsy for a while so I figured, why not open up shop? I sold via Etsy, StorEnvy, and deviantART for the first few years, but now I focus on my Etsy shop and promoting it.

It didn't take long for me to almost completely leave wire wrapping for making the sorts of products that I currently sell. I'd been trading with other people who collected animal parts but was always frustrated by how hard it often was to receive a piece of my favorite animals due to price. I'd seen people make totem bottles before, and figured that would be the perfect way to both get my own special pieces and to provide for others who wanted to connect with their favorite animals without breaking bank.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration?
I'm inspired by all of the beauty in nature that I see when I walk outside. I'll see a vine or flower or animal, and I think to myself, "I want to experience this". So I work to find a way to best showcase the individuality of that creature and offer bits of it for others to connect with. Sometimes I'll end up walking home with armfuls of branches or bones or a purse full of feathers to craft with.

5. What’s your favorite item to create?
If there's one thing I love it's when someone messages me about making a custom piece. Even if it's as simple as combining a few furs in one bottle, I love having the chance to provide someone with exactly what they want. A lot of the people who message me about custom pieces are therians who have had a hard time finding a way to connect with their animals, and it warms my heart any time I can help them find that experience.

6. What’s your best seller?
It's a pretty close tie between my wolf and corvid products. A lot of people identify with these animals so I'll always run into customers buying them for themselves or as gifts for friends and family.

7. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
I was born and raised in North Kingstown. I've lived in Rhode Island for all twenty one years of my life. It's where I work and went to college. The more I travel from my homestate the more I come to appreciate it and what it provides.

8. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
I {heart} that it has a little bit of everything! In Rhode Island we have cities, suburbs, coastlines, forests, farming communities, historical villages...if you want a change of scenery, hop in the car and drive for five minutes. We also have some of the best food in the entire world, if you ask me. Providence may be the food capital of the state with many goodies (my favorite is The Duck and Bunny Snuggery) but anywhere you go in RI, if you see somewhere that sells food, pull in and it will not disappoint you.

9. Any advice for new/wannabe makers?
Don't get discouraged, just keep on practicing and improving your craft as well as your shop. Get a friend or two to look over your shop and listings and ask them if they have any thoughts on how you could better present your wares. Presentation is everything! Also, don't sell anything you wouldn't own yourself. If something is fragile and falling apart or came out looking like way more of a mess than you wanted it to, sell it at a discount or not at all. Your customers deserve a great product that you deserve to be proud of.

10. Please include anything else you'd like to add:
You don't need a big workshop or expensive tools to make crafts that are worth selling. I can fit all of my supplies in a single drawer if I really crammed them in there. Some sellers may advertise their fancy workspace and crank up their prices to match, but anyone who is willing to get creative and practice until they find something that works for them can find themselves an artisan.


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